Perhaps you’ve wondered why there are no mosquitoes in one of the happiest places on earth. This comes as a surprise to many people, considering that Disney World is right in the middle of Florida, a state that has over 80 species of mosquitoes buzzing around all year.
Stick around to find out more about the simple yet well-thought-out measures Disney World has employed over the years to make it mosquito-free.
- Why Are There so Many Mosquitoes in Florida?
- How Disney World Keeps Mosquitoes Away
- How to Protect Yourself From Mosquitoes While at Disney World
- Wear Long Socks, Sleeves, or Pants to Cover Your Skin
- Apply an Insect Repellent on Your Skin
- Use Essential Oils Made From Mosquito-Repellant Plants
Why Are There so Many Mosquitoes in Florida?
Before we begin looking at why there are no mosquitoes in Disney World, let’s take a closer look at why Florida has so many of these pesky pests in the first place.
Florida is home to about 80 different species of mosquitoes, some of which are deadly. One of the main reasons why there are many mosquitoes in Florida is because of its climatic conditions.
Normally, these pests cannot survive under temperatures of 50°F. Unfortunately, the temperatures in Florida remain above that level almost all year round.
Also, Florida has a lot of swamps due to its relatively flat landscape and high rainfall. And since mosquitoes require still water to lay their eggs, these swamps are their perfect breeding spots.
With that being said, let’s jump right into how Disney World manages to keep these insects at bay.
How Disney World Keeps Mosquitoes Away
This magical resort’s success in keeping mosquitoes away dates back to Walt Disney’s encounter with a man named William “Joe” Potter.
Joe was an engineering expert who had previously worked as the governor of the Panama Canal Zone, an area that is full of mosquitoes. During his time as governor, Joe Potter gained the knowledge and experience of getting rid of the pests.
In 1964, during the World’s Fair, Walt Disney met Joe, and he began mentioning his experience in dealing with mosquitoes.
Walt Disney then decided to hire Mr. Potter, placing him in charge of eliminating mosquitoes from the current Disney World resort in Central Florida.
Let’s take a look at how Joe Potter was successful in keeping these pests at bay.
Getting Rid of Still Water Bodies
The first thing that was done to eliminate mosquitoes in Disney World was to eliminate the swamps in that area. Potter dug holes at the resort’s base area, draining the swamps completely.
As we mentioned earlier, mosquitoes are attracted to areas with still water because these are the ideal locations to lay their eggs. When these eggs develop into larvae (also called wigglers), they feed on the organic substances found in these water bodies and breathe in the oxygen from the surface.
What’s more, mosquito larvae need to stay in still water because they are poor swimmers and cannot retain their position in flowing water.
By getting rid of still water areas, Disney World’s Mosquito Surveillance Program( MSP) was able to eradicate these insects.
But what about the fountains and waterfalls in the resort? Well, the water here is in constant movement, making it unsuitable for mosquito eggs and larvae to thrive.
Setting Up Carbon dioxide Traps
Disney World’s MSP also placed carbon dioxide mosquito traps all over the park to eliminate any mosquitoes that may have found their way into the premises.
These traps lure the insects by releasing carbon dioxide, a gas emitted by humans which attracts mosquitoes. Other traps use chemicals to mimic scents that allure the insects and capture them using an adhesive or a vacuum.
Apart from getting rid of these pests, Disney World’s Mosquito Surveillance Program team also captures these insects to examine them. They do so to determine whether there is a new breed of mosquitoes in the park. And if there is, they begin looking for other new methods to eliminate them.
You may have noticed that all the buildings in Disney World have a unique curvy design. This plays a significant role in keeping mosquitoes away from the park.
Almost all buildings in this magical place are constructed in a way that rainwater doesn’t accumulate on any of the surfaces. By eliminating still pools of water, mosquitoes lack a place to lay their eggs.
Part of what makes Disney World so magical is the thousands of trees, plants, and flowers that dot the resort.
Interestingly, most of the plants you’ll come across have leaves that don’t hold water puddles when it rains. Also, you’ll notice that the water bodies are devoid of plants where mosquitos can lay their eggs. Instead, they are filled with mosquito larvae-eating fish such as minnows and goldfish.
Using Liquid Garlic as a Mosquito Repellent
Since Walt Disney didn’t want any chemical pesticides to be used in the resort, he decided to go for a more natural way to eradicate these pests; using liquid garlic.
Mosquitoes cannot stand the scent of garlic because it contains sulfur. Disney’s MSP uses a tiny amount of this natural pesticide because mosquitoes can detect the smell of even the smallest amount of garlic.
Having Chickens in Several Places Within the Resort
It may sound peculiar, but this method has proven to effectively get rid of mosquitoes in Disney World.
The Mosquito Surveillance Program has placed sentinel chickens in different park areas. As you might know, chickens will eat most bugs, including mosquitoes and their larvae. Their scent is also thought to keep mosquitoes away.
Disney World tests these birds’ blood regularly to determine if there are dangerous viruses in the park, such as the Zika virus.
Integrated Bug Management
This is another unique yet quite effective way Disney World’s MSP uses to get rid of mosquitoes in the resort. They release close to 250,000 good insects to eat up any mosquito eggs and larvae present in the park every year.
How to Protect Yourself From Mosquitoes While at Disney World
Of course, Disney World has gone to great lengths to ensure that there are no mosquitoes within the premises. However, all these eradication and prevention methods are not 100% effective.
So, it is advisable to protect yourself because some of these mosquitoes may be carrying deadly viruses such as the Zika virus.
Here are some valuable tips on protecting yourself from mosquitoes while at Disney World.
Wear Long Socks, Sleeves, or Pants to Cover Your Skin
This may be pretty challenging, especially when the temperatures are quite high. However, wearing at least one type of long clothing will reduce the instances of mosquitoes coming into contact with your skin.
In the same breath, avoid skin-tight garments as these will make it easy for mosquitoes to bite you.
It is recommendable to wear clothes made with velvet, nylon ripstop, and denim. These are too thick for a mosquito’s mouthparts (proboscis) to penetrate.
Interestingly, you will attract more mosquitos if you wear dark-colored clothes. The logic behind this is that mosquitoes are attracted to heat, and dull clothes retain more heat than brighter ones. Spraying your clothes with mosquito repellent is also an excellent way to keep the pests at bay. Since these insects are attracted to human sweat, the repellent will mask the scent of your sweat.
Apply an Insect Repellent on Your Skin
Mosquito repellents minimize your exposure to bites, therefore reducing your risk of contracting viruses. Applying a repellent is important, especially if you want to wear clothes that expose too much of your skin.
While shopping for a mosquito repellent, go for one with picaridin or DEET (N, N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) as its main ingredient. The Environmental Protection Agency has proved these substances to be safe for humans and the environment.
Apart from having one of these components, there are several other things to keep in mind when selecting a mosquito repellent. The following are some of them:
It Should Be Effective Against Several Other Biting Insects
Other than mosquitoes, Florida is also full of a wide range of biting insects. Although some do not spread diseases, they are still quite a nuisance. Some of these include:
- Biting Midges(also known as No-See-Ums)
- Red fire ants
- Florida carpenter ants
So, when choosing a repellent to buy, go for one that is also effective against several other insects.
It Should Remain Active for Several Hours After Application
A high-quality mosquito repellent should remain active for several hours after being applied. It is advisable to choose one that has a higher percentage of DEET. While it doesn’t increase its repelling power, it allows the repellent to last for up to eight hours.
It Should Not Be Irritating to the Skin
The aim of applying a repellent is to make you comfortable by keeping mosquitoes and other insects at bay. Unfortunately, some products will irritate your skin, eyes, and nose. Most people prefer buying repellents with Picaridin as the main ingredient because it is less likely to cause irritation compared to DEET.
It Should Not React With Its Plastic Container
When looking for a repellent, choosing a chemically stable one is vital. This means that it shouldn’t react with the plastic container. It may irritate your skin and cause other serious health issues if it does.
It Should Be Cosmetically Appealing
A top-notch quality mosquito repellent shouldn’t be too sticky or greasy, making it feel comfortable on your skin. If it is possible, choose a repellent with little to no odor. This is important, especially if you plan to use it on children.
It Should Be Resistant to Sweat and Water
When shopping for a mosquito repellent, choose one that doesn’t easily come off when you sweat or get into contact with water. Otherwise, it will not provide you with the comfort and protection from bug bites that you need when you’re outdoors.
If you want to use sunscreen, it is best to apply it first before using a mosquito repellent.
Use Essential Oils Made From Mosquito-Repellant Plants
If you prefer using a natural product to keep these insects away, applying some essential oil from mosquito-repellant plants is a great idea. There is a wide range of different essential oils that can keep mosquitoes away. Consider using the following:
- Lavender oil
- Rosemary oil
- Peppermint oil
- Lemon Eucalyptus oil
- Citronella oil
When Disney World officially opened about 50 years ago, the ultimate goal was to offer every visitor the best experience possible, and keeping the resort mosquito-free was part of it.
While Mr. Walt Disney didn’t live to see his Disney World resort dreams come to life, it’s safe to say his aim to keep mosquitoes away from the premises was achieved.