Bugging Out

FAMU’s campus has become a battleground.

Bites have been taken. Swats have been made, as swarm of mosquitoes and other bugs invade The Hill.

Unaware to Florida A&M University students, these nuisances may pose a health risk.

The Florida Department of Health recently issued a health advisory for Leon

County after a human case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis was confirmed.

Encephalitis is a mosquito-born disease transmitted through bites. Symptoms, which may occur in 3-10 days, include high fever, headache, weakness, fatigue and confusion.

Health officials reported the increase in the mosquito population may be due to standing water left by Tropical Storm Fay.

More than 300 calls daily, about mosquito complaints last week, prompted aerial spraying for mosquitoes last weekend in Leon County, according to Glen Pourciau, Director of Mosquito Control.

The chemical, Dibrom, approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, was sprayed over areas affected by flooding.

Mosquito eggs hatched over flooded areas in the county, and aerial spraying was the only way to respond to all residential complaints. However, college campuses in the area were not sprayed, Pourciau said.

“Historically, we have not sprayed on campus,” he said.

In 2001, during the West Nile Virus emergence, aerial spraying on campuses was discussed, but later administrations opted out. Colleges are on state lands and state approval must be done first, Pourciau said.

Student Mario Henderson, 21, said he has seen an overpopulation of mosquitoes on campus.

“I was in class and I got bit on the back,” said the senior political science student from Daytona Beach. “When I was leaving (the Dyson Pharmacy building), there was a wall full of mosquitoes.”

Joseph Agboola, 18, a second-year architecture student from London said he’s been bitten all over campus, which include Tucker Hall, Gibbs Hall and the Architecture building.

“I have a lot of bite marks from mosquitoes in the classrooms,” said Agboola “FAMU needs to fix that problem.”

Kelvin Rosier, assistant director of Building Maintenance, said this is the worst time of the year for bugs.

Rosier said “ensur(ing) trees are trimmed back and trashcans are emptied are” precautions being taken by physical plant.

“With the storm, more water in the area and trees down, there was an increase in mosquito population, he said, “worst than usual.”

Rosier said Terminix, the pest control contractor, does monthly treatments on all campus buildings but not for mosquitoes. He added the county sprays for mosquitoes.

Rosier said that the Physical Plant is in the “process of ensuring the campus is sprayed” and “establishing contacts of when (the county) can come.”

Andrew Balogh, FAMU’s Director of Environmental Health and Safety, said students can protect themselves from mosquitoes by wearing long sleeves, standing away from shrubs and staying outside less during nighttime.

But mosquitoes are not the only insects annoying students.

At this time of the year, there have been more sightings of lovebugs and dragonflies.

Davin Peeples, 20, a third-year business administration student from Jacksonville, said while he was in the parking garage, “at least 30 lovebugs came out of no where.”

Lovebugs were “climbing and flying in the car,” Peeples said.

Attraction to cars is no accident, according to FAMU’s biologist and entomologist, Janice Peters. Lovebugs are drawn to carbon dioxide, exhaust and hot engines.

Peters said lovebugs appear twice a year and in the fall, populations are usually large.

“The biggest ones are migrating and can grow five inches in wing span,” Peters said. However, these insects are not harmful.

Some students said they have seen numerous dragonflies by the School of Journalism and Graphic Communciation building.

Students have nothing to worry about dragonflies because they “do not sting.” She said dragonflies prey on other insects and eat mosquitoes.

“They are the good guys,” Peters said.

If you think you have symptoms of the mosquito-born disease, contact the Leon County Health Department at (850) 606-8125. Contact (850) 599-3442 for insect complaints on campus.