"James David's job of controlling mosquitoes in a part of Florida that Spanish explorers once dubbed 'Los Mosquitos' is often futile.
But this year, the fight 'feels like a sort of hand-to-hand combat,' said David, the mosquito control and coastal services director for St. Lucie County in southeast Florida.
In the past two years, David's local government has cut 42 percent of mosquito control funding and a quarter of his staff. This year, the state slashed its contribution to local mosquito control by half.
Just weeks ago, with a line-item veto, Republican Governor Rick Scott closed a university mosquito lab that David had relied on for pesticide research.
All this comes as most local mosquito control officials agree the mosquito situation is the worst they have seen since 1998, when El Nino caused rampant rains and the pesky insects that come with them, said Shelly Redovan, executive director of the Florida Mosquito Control Association.
'It's a bad mosquito year,' Redovan said. 'And when you've also got reduced funding, it's going to be tough.' "
Amy Wimmer Schwarb reports for Reuters July 11, 2011.