SARASOTA COUNTY (WFLA) – Sarasota County officials who work to protect public health and manage the population of mosquitoes in the area have been targeting the pesky creatures before they are able to fly.

“A lot of people ask why we don’t spray by trucks or aerial as much as we used to. The reason for that is we have focused so much effort on larva sites. We have been able to manage the mosquito population, for the most part, without having to do those treatments because by the time we have to do that, those mosquitoes are already flying and biting people,” Sarasota County Mosquito Management Manager Wade Brennan said. “We want to kill as many mosquitoes as we can in the larva stage. It is critical to our operations.”

Crews have been putting much of their focus on different natural habitats across the county. They’re asking the public to do their part in their own backyards.

“We want people to get rid of their containers in their backyards. This is critical. One of the hardest things mosquito management faces throughout the entire state is getting into backyards and getting rid of containers. That is one of the dominant habitats in and around homes,” said Brennan.

Here’s what else Sarasota County Mosquito Management officials say you can do to help fight the bite:

  • Drain standing water in buckets, gutters, tarps and cover containers such as trash cans
  • Cover your skin by wearing loose-fitting, long sleeved clothing in addition to repellent
  • Keep mosquitoes out of your house by keeping doors closed and installing or repairing screening on windows, doors, porches and patios

Mosquitoes are vectors of a number of diseases. County officials say the two main species that transmit dengue fever, chikungunya, and zika virus thrive in man-made habitats.

“It is a human-driven problem because the mosquitoes species only are produced in man-made containers or human-made containers. So it is your plastic buckets, your containers, your tubs, your boats – they thrive in that specific habitat. If you do not have that habitat, you will not find that species,” said Brennan.

County officials say we haven’t seen human disease transmission in a long time, however the threat is always out there.

“That threat is out there and it is constantly out there and we need to be cautious about that. In the early 1970s, we had an epidemic in our area and the 1990s, we had an epidemic in our area so it is a real threat and we need everyone to take these precautions,” said Brennan.