More than 40 people called the Columbia County Mosquito control office Monday with complaints about growing mosquito populations in the flood affected southern area of the county.

Columbia County mosquito control director Bill Lycan said the department also received close to 40 calls Friday and most were from the Three Rivers Estates area after the Ichetucknee and Santa Fe rivers overflowed their banks and left a large breeding area for mosquitoes. Lycan said on Monday that the county’s mosquito control spraying for the season isn’t scheduled to begin until May 4 but the department may have to begin the season early.

“The rest of the county is pretty dry, but it just depends on mosquito populations and funding,” he said. “We’re still waiting to find out what the state is going to give us in money. They may cut all of it out. Should that happen, I don’t know what the county’s position is going to be. That will be about 40 percent of our total funding for mosquito control.”

In addition to the funding issues, the local mosquito control department will operate dependent on the mosquito population with some new guidelines. An inspector from the Florida Department of Agriculture reviewed the local department Monday. That inspection will result in some changes at the local department. “They’re very much going to the letter of the law on the rules and we’ve got to change some things to even continue our program,” Lycan said. “Just because someone calls and says, ‘there are mosquitoes,’ we can’t use that to spray anymore — we’ve got to go out and verify that there is actually an increase in mosquito population.”

With the new rules in place, the department will send an employee out to do a landing rate count where the employee will go to the area, get out of the truck for one minute and count how many mosquitoes land on him in the allotted minute. That data will be compiled in a log and sent to the Department of Agriculture, showing there is sufficient cause to go spray.

“We can’t afford to buy traps and don’t have the personnel to set them out, collect them and recount those mosquitoes every morning,” Lycan said.

When the mosquito control department begins its local spraying program, it will utilize five trucks, which will run three nights a week, disbursing 30 gallons of mosquito insecticide each night.

“The people that are complaining the most are surrounded by water, but I can’t do anything for them until the water goes down,” Lycan said.

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