Mosquito Control in Panama City Beach works to ’fight the bite’
PANAMA CITY BEACH — Officials of Beach Mosquito Control District say it’s up to residents to help them “fight the bite.”
On the heels of the 24th annual National Mosquito Control Awareness Week, Cindy Mulla, spokeswoman for Beach Mosquito Control District, said managing the local mosquito population plays a crucial role in the public’s overall health.
“We want to keep everybody safe and keep the diseases down,” Mulla said on BMCD’s operations. “It’s a community effort. ... (and) we want people to contact us if they have problems with mosquitoes. We don’t know what’s going on in their back yard.”
To help everyone play their part, she recommended people survey their yards for stagnant water at least once a week.
Mulla added that female mosquitoes, which she said are the ones that bite, only need about one drop of blood to lay more than 350 eggs, which can hatch and be flying within 7-10 days.
According to Michael Riles, entomologist for BMCD, Bay County has nearly 50 species of mosquitoes, of which about a dozen are known for being able to transmit diseases to humans.
“They’re the pathogen taxi,” Riles said on mosquitoes’ main role in the animal kingdom. “When you think about ecology, are things positive or negative because life persists regardless of what it might be.
“It might be negative to us that a pathogen is getting transported from one spot to another, but that’s positive for the pathogen,” he added.
In his laboratory, Riles works to test trapped mosquitoes for viruses, identify new species and fine-tune pesticides. Mulla dubbed his work as the group’s “first line of defense.”
In mid-January, the group relocated to its new roughly $4 million facility near the Panama City Beach Conservation Park.
According to James Clauson, director of the group, the site features about 25,000 square feet of office space, which gives the district the ability to plan for the future.
Clauson added that the building was entirely funded by tax dollars, which the group saved up over the course of several years.
BMCD works to control the mosquito population from Bay County’s western line, south of the inter-coastal waterway and to the Hathaway bridge.
“We know this area is going to explode ... so we built for the future,” Clauson said. “It’s a huge relief to know that we have room to do what we need to do.”
For more information or to request your area to be sprayed, visit www.pcbeachmosquito.org.