The Mosquito in Florida
When the early Spaniards stepped ashore, they came face-to-face with a small flying enemy. As a result, they named today's Ponce de Leon Inlet "Barro de Mosquitoes" .
In the 18th Century, the part of Florida lying between the St. John's River and the coastal lagoons north of Cape Canaveral was known as The Mosquito Country or "The Mosquitoes." Similarly, early maps of Florida show many coastal inlets, lagoons and sections of land bearing the name Mosquito. It's pretty obvious that early settlers considered the local pests pertinent enough to include in the naming process.
Some relief from Florida's heavy mosquito populations could be found in the northern sections of the state. These settlers, however, were still susceptible to mosquitoes and the diseases they carried. Jacksonville, Tallahassee and Pensacola came to be known as the "malaria belt." Summer heat and rain invariably brought deadly fevers to the region, and those who could afford to do so, traveled north to avoid the plague of disease. Commerce and trade to the area dwindled during these time periods, and the people who couldn't afford to leave the area usually battled illness, many of whom died.
For the most part, Florida was considered unbearable due to the mosquito populations throughout the state. When congress was discussing statehood for Florida, it was thought to be a place unfit to live and was thought that, because of the mosquito, it would never be developed to any significant degree. In 1877, Jacksonville and Fernandina Beach residents succumbed to a yellow fever epidemic described by historians as the state's worst holocaust. A population of 1,632 had 1,146 people ill with the fever, of which 24 died. In 1887 yellow fever epidemics raged in Key West, Tampa, Plant City and Manatee, and in 1921 and 1922, dengue fever raged along the both coasts, hitting Miami, Perry and Tampa. Official reports stated 2,500 cases in Tampa alone, although it was estimated the number might have been closer to 4,000.
Today, however, Florida is the United State's leading tourism destination. It is due to a dedicated effort over the years by state and local groups that most Florida residents and visitors are able enjoy a high standard of living with minimal concerns or complaints about the mosquitoes that share their state.
Following are just a couple organizations dedicated to providing the public with accurate mosquito information.