Mosquitoes swamp Florida

The Seattle Biomedical Research Institute's works on its malarial vaccines by removing genes responsible for infection.

Kai Ryssdal: Extreme weather stresses local budgets in lots of ways. In Florida, a state -- it's worth pointing out for this next story -- that was largely built out of marshland, cities and towns are battling record swarms of mosquitoes. And they're doing it, as Marketplace's Eve Troeh tells us, with a lot less ammunition.


Eve Troeh: Florida's itching from the worst skeeter season in a decade. The state has cut money for bug control, so local officials are mostly on their own. In Brevard County on the East Coast, biologist Chris Richmond says a mosquito hotline rings and rings. Many callers are newcomers. They didn't know it got this bad.

Chris Richmond: Anything from please do not spray anywhere near my house to please drive by my house as many times as you can.

Richmond says he can't add new staff. And his sprayers are working two shifts a day.

Richmond: We have to constantly fight.

Across the state, Sarasota County Commissioner Nora Patterson says shooting down skeeters is vital to the economy.

Nora Patterson: I think mosquito control and air conditioning are probably the two things that started a building boom in the state of Florida.

Most counties pay into a mosquito control fund with property tax. With the real estate bust, the fund is almost empty. She says raising taxes to fill it would cost homeowners about $10 more a year -- so less than a few bottles of OFF. But she says, for some politicians, raising taxes stings too much.

I'm Eve Troeh for Marketplace.

About the author

Eve Troeh is News Director at WWNO-FM in New Orleans, La., helping build the first public radio news department in the station’s 40-year history. She reported for the Marketplace Sustainability Desk from 2010 to 2013.

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