Have you heard of Mosquito County in Florida? It’s probably not on your map

Mosquito County was created in the early 1800s, well before Florida even became a state. (Copyright 2023 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

Florida residents are no strangers to mosquitoes, as the state’s subtropical climate makes it the perfect place for them to breed.

It may come as little surprise, then, that Florida once had a county named after these insects.

According to state records, Mosquito County was created by a territorial legislative council in 1824, stretching around 11,400 square miles across the region.

The county occupied the space that would much later end up becoming the Brevard, Indian River, Lake, Martin, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Polk, Seminole, St. Lucie and Volusia counties.

1833 map of Florida by H.S. Tanner. Mosquito County is marked in pink stretching along Florida's Atlantic Coast. (State Library of Florida, Florida Map Collection)

Around 10 years after the massive county was founded, the county’s government operations were finally headquartered at New Smyrna, though it was later moved to Enterprise.

With mosquitoes being common in the region, Spanish explorers dubbed a local waterway “Barra de Mosquitoes” during the 1500s, which ended up being the namesake for the area.

1644 map of Florida with labels for waterways along Florida's coastline. "Barra de Mosquitos" was found along the state's east coast. (State Library of Florida, Florida Map Collection)

County residents didn’t take too well to the name, though, so the legislature decided to rename it in 1842 to Leigh Read County, based on a longtime member of the legislature. Read had died the year prior after being ambushed and shot by friends of another man whom he’d previously killed in a duel.

Despite both houses of the legislature voting for the name-change act, the clerk responsible for taking it to the governor’s office failed to do so before the end of the legislative session — meaning the name stuck around.

1842 map of Florida drawn in expectation of Mosquito County being renamed as Leigh Read County. (State Library of Florida, Florida Map Collection)

A couple of years later, a group of Mosquito County residents took up a petition to change the name to Harrison County in honor of the late President William Henry Harrison.


A group of 73 Mosquito County residents set up a petition in 1844 to rename the area, calling the name Mosquito "unpleasant." (State Archives of Florida, Series S877)

However, when the legislature finally got around to considering renaming the county again in 1845, they didn’t take up the suggested name on the petition.

Instead, the legislature decided to rename the county after an important product in the state — oranges.

While Orange County isn’t nearly as large as Mosquito County once was, it’s become one of the largest tourist destinations statewide, owing to its many attractions and theme parks.

1849 map of Florida by H.S. Tanner. The map now shows the newly-dubbed Orange County in place of Mosquito County. (State Library of Florida, Florida Map Collection)

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Anthony, a graduate of the University of Florida, joined ClickOrlando.com in April 2022.