INSPIRATION AND MOTIVATION FOR ZIKA HOPE
During a two hour presentation, about 25 UUs learned how two species of mosquitos, which are currently residing around our Charlotte County homes, churches, and business, etc., can become carriers of viruses, including Zika. The species are Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. Participants also learned that when infected mosquitos bite people, the bite can transfer the virus to them, a dire consequences.
Unitarian Universalists’ first principle is “The inherent worth and dignity of every person”. Our second principle calls for “Justice, equity, and compassion in human relationships”. Our seventh principle is “Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part”.
Based on these three pillars of our faith, and what we have learned, the Fellowship’s leaders decided to create ZIKA HOPE. Clearly, mosquitos do not differentiate between religions, classes, sexual orientation, or races. We are all susceptible. We want to get the news to the community and fight this potential pandemic together.
WHAT IS ZIKA?
According to the Florida Department of Health and the Center for Disease Control, the Zika virus is carried by infected mosquitos. The disease, Zika fever, is common in numerous countries in Central and South America, Mexico, and the Caribbean including Puerto Rico, America Samoa, and the US Virgin Islands.
As of July 2016, there are about 300 confirmed cases of Zika fever in Florida. These people were infected during foreign travel. The first case of Zika resulting from a Miami, Florida mosquito bite was reported in mid-July, 2016. In late July the number was up to four. The latest count as of 2 August is 14 total cases from local misquotes in a suberb of Miami. On 3 Aug one additional case was found near the area of the 14; the total is now 15 cases from mosquito bites.
The incubation period following infection is approximately 2 to 14 days. Only about 1 in 5 people infected with the Zika now they have had it. Signs and symptoms, which can be very weak, can include reoccurring fever (often low grade), rashes, conjunctivitis (pink eye in both eyes), headaches, vomiting, general muscle and joint aching, and pain behind the eyes. Symptoms usually clear within a week.
Zika virus infections during pregnancy can cause birth defects including microcephaly, neurologic abnormalities and Guillain-Barre (gee-YAH-buh-RAY) Syndrome.
Transmission occurs through the bite of an infected mosquito.
Sexual and blood transfusion transmissions in humans have also been reported!
The CDC recommends that people who think they may have Zika fever should avoid getting additional mosquito bites, while ill, to prevent infection of local mosquitos. Potentially infected men and women should either abstain from sex or use condoms.
What can I do to fight Zika?
Get rid of standing water!
The mosquitos that carry the Zika virus, Aedes
aegypti and Aedes albopictus, are often referred
to as “container mosquitos”.
They like to lay their eggs in shallow stagnant films of water that are found around homes, churches, businesses, and other buildings. Both species are weak fliers so they stay around their birth sites, the exterior of our homes and other buildings. They are hunting for blood so they can reproduce.
By finding & eliminating standing water, we are eliminating the mosquitos’ breeding sites!
LOOK FOR STANDING WATER IN:
Pet bowls, bird baths, clogged gutters
unsealed garbage & recycling containers,
potted plant saucers, wheel barrows,
tarps, litter and yard debris,
overturned buckets, pool,
unscreened/unfiltered rain barrels,
old tires and tire swings
1 cap of water
can give birth
to 100 mosquitos!
HOW TO KEEP BROMELLIAD FLOWERS FROM
BECOMING BREEDING SITES?
Thomas Becker (firstname.lastname@example.org) is an agricultural extension educator and horticulturalist, specializing in “Florida Friendly Landscapes”. He teaches classes for the University of Florida and is a writer for the local publication “Harbor Style”.
In recent article, Mr. Becker points out that bromeliads, because of their leaf structure, form natural cups. Left unattended these beautiful plants become...
MAJOR MOSQUITO BREEDING SITES!
To eliminate these sites, flush the plants with water or blow them out with a leaf blower once per week. The most effective method of eliminating mosquito larvae from hatching in bromeliads is a weekly application of BTI, bacillus thuringiensis israelensis. BTI is granulated corn containing a bacteria larvae eater. BTI is NOT harmful to amphibians, reptiles, birds, and beneficial insects or pets when used as directed.
The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship maintains a large, beautiful bromeliad garden consisting of 100s of plants. Five distinct species thrive beneath our mighty oaks. We blow them out each Thursday morning and then sprinkle BTI in each cup. Random checks with a turkey baster indicate that we are winning the battle. So far, none of our bromeliads have mosquito larvae, (which are worm-like and swim in S-shaped movements) or pupae (which are C-shaped and float on the surface). Visitors are welcome to stop by and observe our Thursday morning rituals and become familiar with our mosquito repelling plants. We are usually there from 8 to 9:30 AM (1532 Forrest Nelson Blvd. in Port Charlotte).
Where can I buy BTI?
The Fellowship buys BTI in 30 oz. containers for approximately $16 through wwwAmazon.com. The product is marketed as Mosquito Bits and is manufactured by SUMMIT. It is now available locally at Tractor Supply Co. at 1185 Kings Highway, Port Charlotte, FL 33980 and Powell Nursery and Landscaping at 6366 Elliot Street, Punta Gorda, FL 33950.
Plants that repel mosquitos
Many plants and herbs have proven mosquito repelling properties. At UUFCC, we are potting and labeling plants and herbs that are appropriate for our climate. Directions for care of the plants are also posted. By surrounding our main entrance and patio with the plants marked with the X (see the list below), we are creating a mosquito free zone.
All of these plants can be cut and made into attractive arrangements for inside or outdoor events. Several, including Basil and Citronella can be rubbed on the skin, serving as a natural repellent.
Citronella and lemon balm eucalyptus candles are also great deterrents.
Mosquito Repellent Plants
The plants on the following list are active deterrents! Because of the specific biochemical attributes of each plant, mosquitoes find it difficult to identify and track targets. The mosquito’s sensual/sensory system is disrupted and the pest is no longer able to process the signals (CO 2, lactic acid, heat, and color) that lead to its next blood meal.
Activate the plants by brushing them with your fingers, crushing leaves or shredding small amounts where you are working or sitting. Brush against Catmint or Lemon Grass when you enter or leave the house. Use cuttings inside the lanai or home interior. Add flower tops to salads or lightly sauté in olive oil to finish hot pastas.
Develop your own repellents using a morter and pestle for crushing leaves; add oil of eucalyptus or citronella to scent preference. Always test on small areas of skin to measure personal sensitivity.
Plants Scientific Name Treatment Notes
X Basil Ocimum Americaum Rub Blue African & Cinnamon best
Bee Balm Morada Oil
Cadega Eucalyptus torelliana Passive
Catmint Napeta cataria. Oil Most effective of all
Cedar Thuga spp Passive
X Citronella Cymbopogon nardus. Oil
Clove Syzygium acromaticum Oil
X Garlic Allium aromaticum Oil Society garlic best
Lavender Lavandula angustifola. Oil Hard to grow in SWFL
Lemon Balm Melissa officinalis. Crush & apply
X Lemon Grass Cymbopogon citrates. Crush, oil
Lemon scented Geranium Pelargonium crispum. Crush, spread leaves
Lemon Thyme Thymus vulgaris Oil
Lemon Verben Aloysia Oil
X Mexican Marigold Tagetes lucida Cut flowers
Nodding Onion Allium cernum Ground/oil
X Peppermint Mentha Oil/cut flowers
Pineapple Weed Matrix aria matricariodes Oil
Pitcher Plant Nepenthes alata Captures mosquitoes
Stone Root Collinsonia canadensia Crush, boil to ointment
Crysanthemums Passive and crushed
X Rosemary Rosmarinus Crush, oil, cuttings
Snowbrush Cenothus velutinus Crush
Sweet Fern Comptonia peregrine Place in incense dish, light
Tansy Tanacetum vilgare
Tea Tree Maleleuca. Oil
Vanilla Leaf Achlys triphylla. Crush, use as scent
Wild Bergamot Mondarda fistulosa
Dressing for the mosquitoes
Mosquitoes like dark colors. So wear white and light shades. Long sleeves, long pants, and white socks should cover vulnerable skin. Perfumes, after shaves, etc. attract the pests. However, spraying your clothes and exposed skin with repellents is often a good idea. Active ingredients in most commercially produced repellents include DEET, Picaridin, and oil of lemon eucalyptus. Always follow product directions and reapply as necessary.
ZikaHope Insect Sprays
It can be challenging to figure out which insect sprays to get at the store. We have compiled several different types ranging from reputedly more natural sprays to sprays , which contain DEET. One set of sprays can found at a local store like Target or Walmart, the other can be ordered online at Amazon.com. We advocate for pump bottles over aerosol because they are recyclable and do not cause as much harm to our ozone environment.
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES AND HELP
Charlotte County’s Mosquito and Aquatic Weed Control is housed under Public Works. The manager is Scott Shermerhorn, MS, MPA, RS. Recently, four folks from the Fellowship visited Mr. Shermerhorn and several members of his staff. We were very impressed. Mr. Shermerhorn and Beth Kovach, Biological Specialist, also came to the Fellowship with a power point presentation and answered many of our questions. They are located at 25550 Harborview Road in Port Charlotte. Their phone number is 941-764-4356.
It was very clear that these county employees are dedicated, well trained, and following guidelines that will help control the over 40 species of mosquitos found in Charlotte County. Their website, which can be found at www.CharlotteCountyFL.gov has lots of valuable information and numerous ways that we can help.
WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE?
THE FUTURE OF ZIKA HOPE
This entry on the Unitarian Universalist Website is just a beginning. As additional information and resources are generated, we intend to help those community members who are living in poverty. An article in the July 3, 2016 edition of “USA TODAY” stated that those who live in substandard housing and neglected neighborhoods face the greatest danger for being infected with mosquito related diseases. About 45 million Americans live in poverty. Eight million of these folks live along the Gulf Coast.
Finally, this effort will only work if Charlotte County residents spread the word. We have a lot to do together.
Please contact us to get involved:
Dennis G. Shaw, Ed.D
President of the Board of Trustees
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Charlotte County, FL