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Mosquito expert scratches surface at Gullett Elementary School

Manatee County Mosquito Control employee is bugged by lack of information.

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  • | 10:00 a.m. October 5, 2016
  • East County
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While attending the Manatee County Fair a few years ago, biologist Ambyr Marsicano watched as a father and his child approached a table featuring an exhibit of mosquito larva.

"There's a whole generation of adults who have no clue," Marsicano said. "He told his child that it was a tadpole. That's when I knew what I was supposed to do."

Marsicano, who works for the Manatee County Mosquito Control District, decided it would be best to teach the county's students about mosquitoes, especially with scary reports in the media about mosquito-related diseases such as the Zika virus.

Kids see scary things about the Zika virus on the media, and Marsicano said some of the information can get blown out of proportion.

"Some fifth graders actually believe that if they leave their house and get Zika, they are going to die," Marsicano said. "It's sad. So, it's my job to let them know that they're going to be OK."

Marsicano visited B.D. Gullett Elementary School on Sept. 27 to inform third-graders about mosquitoes. She even brought samples of the insects with her.

"Kids love insects, so her coming here was great, they loved it," said Gullett third-grade teacher Lauren Booth. 

Marsicano managed to keep the students engaged through a 45-minute presentation. She handed out Manatee Mosquito Control stickers as incentive for the children to participate and she also provided the students with magnifying glasses so they could get up close and personal with the mosquitoes.

"They're the ones playing in the backyard," Marsicano said of the children. "They're the ones poking at things in the water, so they're the ones that need to know (about mosquitoes)."

Marsicano gave the students information about how to stop mosquitoes from spreading, such as draining any standing water that accumulates. She also answered questions about the Zika virus since it has taken center stage of late.

"Kids are seeing things on the news (about Zika virus) and this can be really scary for them, so it's good that she does this," Booth said. "She gives them all kinds of knowledge, how they breed and what we can do to make sure they don't spread. It shows them even as third graders, there's something they can do to prevent mosquitoes."

Third-grade teacher Kirstin Bonnett said the program fit into the school's concentration on science as part of its STEM curriculum. 

"We study plants and animals a lot, so it's like review for the students of the life cycle and characteristics of insects," Bonnett said. "She's just fabulous. She makes it funny, but she also informs them on ways that they can help to control the mosquito population here so that they're not afraid."

The students can't wait for another visit from Marsicano.

"She knows what she's talking about," said 8-year-old Peyton Britt. "She explains how they (mosquitoes) hatch, how they live and how to keep yourself safe."








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