Mosquitoes are troublesome pests that can cause itchy bites and transmit disease, including the Zika virus. Experts agree that one way to protect yourself against mosquitoes is to wear mosquito repellent. However, for many of Hernando County’s homeless, getting access to this kind of protection can be difficult. In response, UF/IFAS Extension Hernando County launched Operation Skeeter Stop in August of 2016. Organizers collected donated containers of mosquito repellent and distributed them to the Hernando County homeless community. The program 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. Extension agents Brittany Scharf, William Lester, and Stacy Strickland organized Operation Skeeter Stop as part of the Zika Challenge, a UF/IFAS Extension program that seeks to spread public awareness of mosquito control. As of October 2016, Operation Skeeter Stop had collected 313 containers of mosquito repellent to be distributed to the homeless community by local charitable organizations. Operation Skeeter Stop is just one way UF/IFAS Extension is helping to improve the quality of life for all residents in Hernando County.
Rodney Dyess (Homeless Ministry of Brooksville) and Brittany Scharf (Florida Sea Grant Agent) collect mosquito repellent for Operation Skeeter Stop. UF/IFAS photo