Florida

'World's Deadliest Animal': Experts Fear Mosquito Threat For Upcoming Hurricane Season

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TALLAHASSEE, FL—During National Mosquito Control Awareness Week, Floridians bracing for a volatile and "super-charged" hurricane season are reminded of another growing threat: as tropical conditions increase, so does the presence of the mosquito, the world's deadliest animal.

“The world’s top mosquito control scientists and experts are in Florida, working 24/7 to control and mitigate the threat of disease,” said Richard Weaver, President of the Florida Mosquito Control Association and Business Manager at the Anastasia Mosquito Control District in St. Johns County. “Floridians know and understand the need to be vigilant about hurricanes and tropical storms, however, we must also be vigilant about mosquitoes.”

Mosquitoes can carry diseases like Dengue fever, Zika, malaria, West Nile virus, and Equine Encephalitis—which are, at best, debilitating, and at worst, the reason 700,000 to 1,000,000 million people die per year. The next biggest killer of humans—besides other humans—is snakes, which kill over 100,000 people per year.

So far, three Florida counties have already issued mosquito-borne illness advisories or alerts for local transmission of Dengue virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus.

But...why do more hurricanes equal more mosquitoes? Because even small areas where water might collect, such as puddles, buckets, containers, and even depressions in the ground, can become a mosquito nursery. A few weeks ago, severe South Florida flooding led Governor DeSantis to declare a state of emergency in five counties.

Hurricanes, which often cause anywhere from minor to severe flooding, create a perfect breeding ground for the pests, indigenous worldwide.

Esteemed federal agency the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) warns of a confluence of factors that may signal a potentially catastrophic upcoming hurricane season—a perfect storm of contributors leading to...a perfect storm.

The 2023-2024 year was an El Nino year, an ocean-warming phenomenon causing wetter conditions in the South and warmer conditions in the North. And, NOAA says, it was one of the strongest ever observed, meaning scientists predict a rapid transition to La Nina—an ocean-cooling event with warmer temperatures in the South and cooler temperatures in the North—that often leads to a more severe Atlantic hurricane season, due to its lessened wind shear in the tropics.

Experts predict La Nina to develop sometime between July and September and last through the winter, at least in the Northern Hemisphere. Hurricane season, meanwhile, perfectly coincides, beginning June 1st and ending November 30th.

Furthermore, an above-average West African monsoon is expected this hurricane season, meaning brutal, eastbound African waves that have seeded "some of the strongest and longer-lived Atlantic storms" in the past.

NOAA predicts an 85% chance of an above-normal hurricane season and up to 25 total named storms, which means winds of at least 39 mph. Of those storms, they expect up to 13 to become hurricanes—at least 74 mph winds—including up to 7 major hurricanes—at least 111 mph winds.

June 16 to 22 is National Mosquito Control Awareness Week, so the Florida Mosquito Control Association and its members—67 mosquito control programs—are reminding the public of different precautions to protect against mosquito bites and their diseases, calling them the three D's of protection, in a Tuesday morning press release.

  • Drain –After a storm, each household and property becomes a resort for mosquitoes looking for a place to lay their eggs. Mosquitoes only need a teaspoon of water to develop, so emptying even small accumulations of water outside can make a difference.
  • Dress – Wear long sleeves and long pants that are light-colored and loose-fitting. These clothing choices are a deterrent to mosquitoes.
  • Defend – Mosquito repellents containing DEET, Picaridin, and IR3535 are powerful shields against mosquitoes. If a more natural product is preferred, repellents containing the Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus are great options.
Liv Caputo

Livia Caputo is a senior at Florida State University, working on a major in Criminology, and a triple minor in Psychology, Communications, and German. She has been working on a journalism career for the past year, and hopes to become a successful reporter after graduation. Her work has been cited in Fox News, the New York Post, and the Daily Mail

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