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Mosquitoes take bite out of some Fourth of July plans

4:46 PM, Jul 4, 2012   |    comments
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- For many people in the Tampa Bay area, something extra is lurking near their Fourth of July celebrations this year.

Local and state health departments issued warnings in recent days about an exploding mosquito population following the heavy rains from Tropical Storm Debby.

"There's a lot of them flying around," said Desiree Pagan as she enjoyed a cookout with friends at Fort De Soto Park.

On a holiday filled with outdoor activities, spraying for bugs is just as important as snacks and sunscreen.

"I woke up in the morning and put it on and reapply throughout the day," said Heather Monroe, who was camping at the park.

The standing water left behind from Debby's record rain is a breeding ground for the bloodsuckers. Health departments caution everyone to be especially careful, and to cover up their skin at dusk and dawn to avoid mosquito-borne diseases.

At Fort De Soto, park rangers were even passing out repellant. "I think an increase in mosquitoes is going to naturally make you more concerned about diseases," Monroe said.

The insects may not go away anytime soon, either. A look at a drought index map shows a lot of green, which is a sign conditions are much more wet than they often are this time of year.

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