Collecting mosquito repellent for the homeless

Experts agree that one effective way to protect yourself against mosquitoes —and the diseases they can transmit — is to wear mosquito repellent. But for homeless people, getting access to this kind of protection can be difficult.

In response, the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Science Extension Hernando County has launched Operation Skeeter Stop. Organizers will collect donated containers of mosquito repellent and distribute them to the Hernando County homeless community.

The program is accepting donations until Oct. 31, and staffers hope to collect at least 500 containers of repellent. During this time, the UF/IFAS Extension Hernando County Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/HernandoExt/) will post weekly updates charting the progress toward this goal.

Operation Skeeter Stop is a collaboration among several UF/IFAS Extension Hernando County programs, including Florida Sea Grant, Florida Friendly Landscaping, 4-H Youth Development and Florida Master Gardeners, along with Hernando County Mosquito Control and the Florida Department of Health, said Brittany Scharf, UF/IFAS Extension Hernando County Florida Sea Grant agent.

Scharf, William Lester and Stacy Strickland organized Operation Skeeter Stop as part of the Zika Challenge, a UF/IFAS Extension program that gives Extension faculty the tools to spread public awareness about mosquito control. Lester is the UF/IFAS Extension Hernando County horticulture agent, and Strickland is the UF/IFAS Hernando County Extension director and agriculture agent.

Donations will be distributed by local charitable organizations that serve the homeless, said Lester. “Anyone is at risk for getting bitten by a mosquito,” Lester said, “so it’s important that those without easy access to repellent get the protection they need.”

Hernando County residents and anyone interested in donating mosquito repellent can drop off new, unopened containers at five locations:

 

UF/IFAS Extension Hernando County Office

16110 Aviation Loop Drive, Brooksville, FL

(352) 754-4433

 

UF/IFAS Hernando County

Master Gardener Nursery

19490 Oliver Street, Brooksville, FL

Open 9 a.m. to noon on Wednesdays

 

Hernando County Government Center

20 North Main Street, Brooksville, FL

352-754-4000

 

Hernando County Mosquito Control

15400 Wiscon Road, Brooksville, FL

352-540-6552

 

Department of Health Hernando County

7551 Forest Oaks Boulevard, Spring Hill, FL

352-540-6800

 

As part of Operation Skeeter Stop, UF/IFAS Extension Hernando County faculty have produced two education videos that debunk some common mosquito myths and explain how to prevent mosquitoes from breeding in home landscapes. Videos are available at http://extensioncontest.com/.

Those who view the videos can enter a prize drawing, said Scharf. Businesses interested in contributing prizes should contact the organizers.

By: Samantha Grenrock, 352-294-3307, grenrosa@ufl.edu

Sources: Brittany Scharf, 352-754-4433, bhallscharf@ufl.edu

William Lester, 352-754-4433, wlester@ufl.edu

Stacy Strickland, 352-754-4433, jsstrick@ufl.edu