Progress Report - From the mosquito test to how many fewer mosquitoes we have in SFL in 2017:
Bottom Line: Mosquitoes bite and suck and are generally awful (at least the females - the males actually leave us alone - there's a bad joke in there somewhere). That's when they aren't carrying something awful like Zika around with them. After last year's horrific mosquito season, magnified with Zika concerns and warnings throughout South Florida, action has been taken by several agencies to attempt to prevent a repeat this year.
Increased grant money from the state was made available and literally every county from Palm Beach County through Monroe took additional action this year. Miami-Dade's action was the most noticeable with 42 new full-time positions being added to it's mosquito control service. Aside from simply repressing the problem with more spraying and people to do it, the most potentially effectual action of all has been happening in the Keys.
The twelve week test on Stock island using genetically modified mosquitoes, designed to kill off mosquito populations, seems to be going pretty well. We last checked in on it in mid-June and it was too early to see the impact. Now, as just a couple of weeks are left in the test we have a better idea of how effectual it has been and if it's part of a longer-term solution. On Friday the Florida Key's mosquito control district released information that spoke to 2017's effort to bite back against the mosquitoes.
- Increased spraying and traditional methods have reduced mosquito populations in the keys by 60%
- The goal they now have, that's realistic, is 90%
Not bad...Your Florida Keys - now with 60% fewer mosquitoes - has a ring to it. I haven't found like numbers yet for SFL's other counties but it's likely that significant progress has been made with the increased efforts as well (especially since we haven't had an explosion of Zika transmission in SFL yet). Anyway the 90% goal stated by the Key's team is instructive. That's the success rate of the genetically modified mosquito tests in the Cayman Islands before they were brought to Stock Island. We won't know the success/failure rate of the tests until sometime in mid-August at the earliest but this would seem to suggest it's going really well. If that's the case, the plan was/is to move south to north from the Key's through Palm Beach County over the next year. The idea of 90% fewer mosquitoes is an exciting one. Even if I do still have concerns about the potential for untended consequences (which always seems to be the case when we think we can handle nature better than nature).