Disney uses Test Chickens to Help Control Mosquitoes

You know that saying that you don’t notice the absence of something if you never knew it was there in the first place? Well that’s true about Walt Disney World and Mosquitoes. I mean we’re in the middle of Florida in a very swampy situation and yet, there are very few of the pesky blood-suckers around. How does Disney do it?

Well they get some help from the Reedy Creek Improvement District, the Disney owned governmental body for the property WDW sits on. Here’s a crazy quote from their website:

Mosquito Control
Planning and Engineering is also responsible for monitoring mosquito populations and arbovirus activity and directing mosquito control operations within the District. Mosquitoes are collected, counted and identified by species weekly form 70 different sites. Additionally, a representative sample of mosquitoes are dissected to determine their age and thereby identify their ability to transmit disease. The District currently houses eight sentinel chicken flocks. The chickens are tested weekly throughout the year for the presence of antibodies to mosquito-borne viruses. The test results help define mosquito control activities such as spray frequencies and type of treatment applied. This program has been highly successful in minimizing concerns that could substantially affect the public.

Yep, that’s right. Somewhere on Disney property right now are a couple flocks of chickens being kept alive as canaries in a coal mine. They get sick so you don’t have to.

Elsewhere behind the scenes is a small army of workers treating water ponds, inspecting traps, and performing other types of test control as this archived article discusses (test account required to read). They have to cover over 68 miles of roads, canals, and walkways and use pesticides approved by the state of Florida.

Disney also practices something called Integrated Bug Management. They deliberately release good bugs who feast on the larva of the bad bugs. Over 250,000 of these good bugs are released each year to help keep the bad bug population down.

Do you notice the bugs when you visit Disney World? What are your tips for keeping away the bugs when you visit Walt Disney World?

20 thoughts on “Disney uses Test Chickens to Help Control Mosquitoes”

  1. My tip is ALWAYS look before you sit, it’s happened to me a few times and I’ve seen it happen a lot to others, if you sit on the grass or wall in a Disney park check for a wasp, I always seem to get stung on the leg from sitting on a wasp

  2. I never noticed the lack of bugs until October. We were there the first week of Food & Wine Festival (Wine & Dine Race) and there were flying bugs EVERYWHERE (remind me of the box elder bug we have in Michigan). It was disgusting, you could not sit on a bench because they were covered in bugs. We arrived on Friday & they were horrible. They were much better by the time we left on Wednesday.

    I don’t know if these were the intentionally released bugs, or if they can’t treat until the bugs hatch, or if the bugs are only alive for a few days so they just deal with it.

    We’re going again for Wine & Dine weekend & it will be interesting to see if the bugs are back. I’ve been in mid September before and later in October and never encountered this before.

  3. Why don’t they do something about the love bugs? They’re horrible and way more disgusting than a mosquito….. Weren’t they one of the species brought in to kill mosquitos? If so, that’s a pretty big fail on their part…..

    1. I’d take the lovebugs any day over mosquitos! They’re really not that disgusting and they don’t bite or bother people that much other than being unpleasant to look at. Mosquitos, on the other hand, absolutely ruin my vacation with just a few nasty bites. I’m glad Disney has instituted the Lovebug program if they help control the mosquito larval population!

  4. Now that I think about it, I’ve only really seen large amounts of bugs once before- at Epcot. We were standing next to one of the torches for Illuminations, waiting for the show to start. Right when the torch lit up, I noticed a probably a hundred little bugs fall to their death.

    Anyways, I hope those chickens don’t stay sick for long..seems kinda strange that Disney would perform that kind of testing right in the park…

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  15. I knew they had a seccret! We recently spent a Saturday at Epcot and then Sunday at Universal Studios. Only after swatting the plague-like swarms of flies at Universal did it occur to me that I had no such issues at Disney. Universal needs to take some lessons from the mouse.

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