The Florida Medical Entomological Laboratory (FMEL), part of the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS), is about 3 miles south of Vero Beach along the Indian River Lagoon on Florida's subtropical east coast. The Laboratory, established in 1956, consists of a group of buildings among 38 acres of an oak-palm forest a scrub oak-pine forest and an extensive salt marsh.
The Florida State Legislature--recognizing the need for greatly expanded research on the biology and control of mosquitoes, especially about the effects of insect-carried diseases on the citizens of Florida and on its tourist industry--mandated that the FMEL:
- Conduct research in the biology and control of biting insects and other arthropods which are important transmitters of disease or pest annoyances, giving special attention to the needs of Florida's mosquito control organizations (districts, counties and municipalities).
- Be a center to train students and personnel in the entomological aspects of public health, veterinary science, sanitation, mosquito control, drainage and irrigation design, wetlands management, and other areas requiring knowledge of medical entomology;
- Extend research and training to international programs.
Today, the FMEL is one of the world's largest research institutions devoted to the understanding and control of medically important and biting insects. Modern laboratory and support facilities and easy access to natural habitats offer an environment conducive to scientific investigation. Over 1100 scientific publications have been published in about 90 national and international journals.
The FMEL staff of about 30 includes nine faculty in the University of Florida's IFAS, Department of Entomology and Nematology and several post- doctoral and graduate students in the Department. The FMEL extension program emphasizes gathering information, distribution of important research findings, and conducting biological studies at the districts.