Initially, the storm. Then came an insect famine.
Communities in Florida are currently being overrun by swarms of mosquitoes that have multiplied in floodwater and the debris left behind by Hurricane Ian.
In an effort to protect residents and stop the voracious insects from slowing down the recovery crews working to fix power lines and rebuild infrastructure, state and local officials are waging a multimillion dollar war against the bloodsucking insects, which are known to spread diseases like West Nile virus and St. Louis encephalitis.
Eric Jackson, the deputy head of the Lee County Mosquito Control Division, declared that “the mosquitoes are out there, and they are biting.” The only thing we are trying to do is kill as many of those flying, adult mosquitoes as we can.
Following the initial destruction caused by a hurricane or flood, other hazards emerge, such as bacterial infections, respiratory diseases and illnesses spread by pests that thrive in standing water. Mosquitoes are a side effect of a storm that is common, bothersome, and occasionally hazardous. If unchecked, they can make it difficult to rebuild and increase the likelihood of an outbreak.
“Picture a few thousand people charging at you. After hurricanes and significant floods, that is the main worry, according to Daniel Markowski, a technical adviser for the American Mosquito Control Association. The sheer volume of mosquitoes can make even the most mundane activities intolerable.