There are a lot of annoying parts about visiting Walt Disney World in Florida, including long lines, sweltering heat and hordes of screaming, sticky, sweaty children. But one thing there's not? Mosquitoes.
That's right: Despite being located smack-dab in the middle of Florida swampland, the happiest place on Earth lives up to its name as a place that's free from those buzzing, thirsty pests. But this isn't a fortunate accident or even magic — it's all very carefully orchestrated according to vlogger Rob Plays, who posts videos giving behind-the-scenes looks into Disney World. One of his most recent videos, first spotted by Neatorama, goes into detail about this entomological phenomenon.
But before we get into that, why would Disney World care so much about making their park mosquito-free? Sure, it makes your experience more enjoyable without having to swat those little buggers away every 10 seconds, but more than that, it's done to prevent the spread of mosquito-borne illnesses like the Zika virus, West Nile virus and encephalitis. While we should all be mindful of Zika, it's especially important for people who might get pregnant (or those who might get other people pregnant) to avoid getting it. Since parents of small children fall into that category and likely make up a significant proportion of Disney World's visitors, their no-mosquito policy really makes sense.
So, how do they do it? According to Plays' video, Disney World has enacted a comprehensive strategy for keeping mosquitoes at bay. It includes maintaining populations of other critters that are natural predators as well as spraying insecticides and growth regulators, which reduce their lifespan. In other words, they're the same techniques available to everyone else.
"The impressive part is the vigilance and the precision in which Disney carries out these methods," Plays notes in the video.
And in addition to their official mosquito surveillance program (which uses carbon dioxide traps to catch and then track mosquitoes and their locations and patterns across the park), they also employ an army of chickens. Yes, chickens.
They're called "sentinel chickens," and they're located in coops throughout the property. Their blood is always being monitored for things like West Nile virus to see if any insects spreading the disease have gotten through their barriers. And don't worry: The chickens don't become ill when they have West Nile virus — they just let the Disney mosquito team know that the virus is present and being spread.
So, if you're looking for an excuse to book a trip there, I think you've just found one that will appeal to the whole family.