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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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