The Everglades buzz? It’s mosquitoes …

OCHOPEE, Fla.— It’s a bird … it’s a plane … it’s an Everglades mosquito.

Ever wonder where those long flat rows of saw grass come from? They are landing strips for these huge insects that call Everglades National Park home.

“They definitely control what can and can’t be done outside, especially during the summer,” said Mark Kaufflett, a ranger at Big Cypress National Preserve.

Anyone who has ever had an encounter with these mosquitoes knows how much they can affect activities at the park. Everything from hiking to sightseeing to camping trips has to be planned with special care, during mid-March to mid-October when the mosquitoes rule the land.

Mosquitoes are not just little pests, they can carry all types of diseases that are transmitted through the blood.

“There are many different ways to protect yourself from being bitten,” said Eddie Starbol, a pharmacist at an Eckerd’s in Plantation, Fla.

The key is to fend them off before they ruin your trip to the park.

“Deet sprays are the most popular and effective,” said Starbol.

Deet is a chemical that contains phosmorses, agents that release an odor offensive to mosquitoes. Deet sprays are fairly inexpensive ranging from $5 to $10 a bottle and can be found in most drug stores and sporting goods stores.

Another good way to repel mosquitoes is to increase the amount of B-12 in your system. B-12 vitamins contain an odor that is emitted through the skin. It is odorless to people, but offensive to mosquitoes.

These vitamins are fairly inexpensive at about $15 for 60 tablets and can be found in most grocery and drug stores. The vitamins should be taken about three days prior and during your trip to the park.

Some other ways to protect yourself include mosquito nets and candles that emit odors that bugs find offensive. These products can be found in hardware and sporting goods stores.

Of course, the best way to avoid the large winged-vampire pests is to avoid going to the park in the evening or during the peak season. If you are planning a trip to the park, go to the welcome center and ask advice about how to protect yourself and find out what the mosquito population has been in the past few days.

“Tourists come in here all of the time after a night out in the park, covered with red spots and itching from head to toe,” said Everglades National Park ranger Bridget Bellsy.

So remember, the best place to sustain a severe wound in the Everglades is not a ban covered with alligators, it’s an angry mosquito nest.


If You Go

  • Take along Deet mosquito spray
  • Take B-12 vitamins
  • Visit during the day
  • Avoid peak season: mid-March to mid-October
  • Ask for advice at the welcome center, 941-695-4111

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