(CTN News) – In his current position as executive director of the Metropolitan Mosquito Control District, Daniel Huffcombine his love of public health with his passion for insects.
Last week, Huff, the former assistant commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Health, began his new position.
“I love it when science and real-world solutions meet,” said Huff, 53. Mosquito Control focuses on upstream solutions, because we make the biggest impact when we tackle small problems, and that’s what public health is about.” The MMCD’s “targeted” approach to controlling mosquito populations in the metro area impressed Huff.
Data-driven work is done – “down to the specific type of wetlands and only treating when mosquitoes are present,” he said. When they do dips for larvae, they determine if there are enough larvae in a place to make it worthwhile to treat, and then they treat it.
They look at the weather, the type of wetland, and its history. Since every mosquito has a different habitat, they have decades of history on what each wetland produced. Some like it when it floods; others like it when it is wet all the time.” The state of Minnesota has more than 50 species of mosquitoes, but only half of them are considered nuisances, meaning they bite humans or transmit diseases.
He added that spraying mosquito larvae rather than adults minimizes the impact on bees and butterflies. Other beneficial insects may be negatively affected when some districts only spray for adults.”
Huff said the MMCD also tracks black flies and ticks in the metro Mosquito area.
According to him, tick diseases are among the most concerning. Staff here are very aware of the impact of climate change on everything. There are more ticks, more tick species, and more diseases spread by ticks.”
In addition to canoeing in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Huff recently returned from a nine-day trip in the Florida Everglades.
Upon being asked, he said, “I love the outdoors.”. We should protect the environment. I’m a bug lover. I find them fascinating, as well as vector-borne diseases. Neither of those things are my strong suits, so this job is great.”
Dragonflies are his favorite bug.
Health Protection Bureau Assistant Commissioner Jan Malcolm appointed Huff in 2019. In her role as assistant commissioner, Huff oversaw the Environmental Health Division, the Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Prevention and Control Division, and the Public Health Laboratory.
They might not know about the MMCD, but they sure appreciate it.