The effects of Tropical Storm Debby are still buzzing around the Tampa area.
Complaint calls about mosquitoes have spiked since the slow-moving Debby flooded West Central Florida a week and a half ago, according to Hillsborough County Mosquito Control. High counts at the agency's mosquito traps have confirmed the validity of the gripes.
Coastal and low-lying areas have been the hardest hit by the influx of the pests, said Leonard Burns, a surveillance manager for the department. Spray trucks have been sent to South Tampa, Apollo Beach, Palm River, Picnic Island and Wolf Creek, which is south of Apollo Beach.
The burst of mosquitoes in the last few days has come from a combination of Tropical Storm Debby, high tides and hot temperatures, Burns said.
The agency decides which areas to spray by monitoring its mosquito traps and taking into account complaint calls from throughout the county. A spray truck was recently sent to a South Tampa neighborhood, for example, when more than two dozen people called to complain about mosquitoes there.
The mosquito control district has shifted slightly when it does the majority of its spraying. In the past, workers sprayed primarily from 3 a.m. to 7 a.m., but spraying now is doing from 8 p.m. to midnight.
"The pesticide seems to move a little better," he said. "There are typically more mosquitoes at that time anyway."
Burns recommends that the public take simple precautions to minimize the annoyance and health risk of mosquitoes. Use spray with DEET, wear a long-sleeve shirt and try to minimize being outside at dusk.
Other helpful mosquito tips:
Put a cover on your swimming pool if you aren't using it. Or stock the pool with fish, which will eat mosquito larvae. Gambusia are available to residents from the county's mosquito control staff by calling (813) 635-5400.
Clean rain gutters. A clogged rain gutter creates an ideal habitat for mosquito larvae.
Check window and door screens to make certain there are no holes.
Dispose of tin cans, old tires, buckets and unused plastic swimming pools where water can collect. Don't let water to accumulate in flowerpot saucers or pet dishes for more than two days.
Source: Hillsborough County Mosquito Control Unit