When Dave Pelley, program manager and biologist with Orange County Mosquito Control, was tasked with cleaning out an outdoor storage room at Mosquito Control that was overflowing with wooden boards, old equipment, discarded plastic tubs and a pump, one thing led to another, and an educational pavilion was born.
Pelley and Rafael Melendez, a technician at Orange County Mosquito Control, brainstormed on how they could enhance the space. Besides a fresh coat of paint, Melendez mentioned creating a mural to brighten the place up.
“Before I came to Mosquito Control, I used to paint houses, so I told Dave about the mural idea and he loved it,” said Melendez. “I researched and decided it would be cool to paint Florida’s ecosystem, so I started creating that on one section of the wall.”
When Pelley saw how impressive it turned out, he told Melendez to keep going. “I suggested he paint the mosquito lifecycle and then an urban environment showing a house with places where mosquitos tend to thrive on another section. Before we knew it, we had a flowing educational mural.”
But what about those plastic tubs and pump? Pelley decided to make good use of them by filling them with mosquito fish, a native species in Central Florida’s waterways. They’re voracious predators of mosquito larvae so they help control the mosquito population. Orange County Mosquito Control breeds them in these tubs and provides them to residents who request them.
The mosquito fish complete what is now a functioning educational pavilion for Orange County Mosquito Control.
“We already have school groups coming in, but it’s also available for the public … anyone who’s interested and wants to learn,” Pelley affirmed. “It also serves the function of supplying mosquito fish to our community.”
For Melendez, the mural was a labor of love that now serves a purpose.
“When you look at the mural’s bright colors and hear the water running, it makes you feel good,” he said. “Being able to take the unsightly storage space and transform it into what we have now is incredible … and it is so gratifying.”
Pelley agrees. “Turning that space into something that’s productive and useful is a positive thing. Every time I see the pavilion I smile; it’s like having our own little theme park right here at Orange County Mosquito Control.”
For more information about Orange County Mosquito Control and/or to visit the new educational pavilion, visit http://www.ocfl.net/mosquito. Mosquito Control is located at 2715 Conroy Road, Building A, Orlando, FL 23839.
Photo Caption: The mural serves as a colorful display for the outdoor aquarium where visitors learn about the life cycle of mosquitos. From left to right, Rafael Melendez, Technician and Dave Pelley, Program Manager.