06/16/06 — Property owners can get mosquito control tips

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Property owners can get mosquito control tips

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on June 16, 2006 1:52 PM

Wayne County doesn't spray for mosquitoes, but officials say there are ways residents can stop the large numbers of pests that could come as a result of the week's heavy rains.

After Wednesday's storms throughout Wayne County, local residents can expect the mosquito population to grow and continue to multiply during the summer months, local officials say.

Although municipalities are doing their part to stem the mosquito populations, the county government does not spray for mosquitoes. But there are ways county residents can prevent scratching mosquito bites all summer long, said Keith Whitley, county environmental health director.

Mosquitoes reproduce and live near areas of stagnant water. This could be a pond, retaining ditch or even an old tire that has collected water, Whitley said.

The easiest ways to alleviate the problem include cutting up an old tire so water does not collect there again, dumping out any buckets or other objects retaining water or calling the environmental health department at 731-1174.

The county will not spray to kill adult mosquitoes, but environmental health employees will use larvacide tablets in any ponds or ditches containing stagnant water, Whitley said. The tablets transform the mosquito eggs so that any mosquito born from within the water source will be born without wings.

County Manager Lee Smith said most counties in North Carolina do not try to handle mosquito control because of the scope and cost of the project.

"It's almost fruitless to even attempt it because of the expanse of our rural areas," Smith said.

The county usually only conducts its own mosquito control after a major hurricane hits the area, Smith said. In that rare occasion, he said the county would conduct an aerial spray over flooded areas with stagnant water.

Whitley said the county does have sprayers available for that kind of operation. In the event of another large hurricane coming through the area, like Hurricane Floyd in 1999, he said the county would equip trucks with the sprayers and spray where necessary. Also, with a major hurricane, state agencies would assist the county in controlling any mosquito problem.

Instead of annual sprays like a municipality would do, Whitley says his department prefers to educate the public and help in other ways.

"If mosquitoes are hanging around someone's home, that usually means they are breeding around the home. We'll go out there and give them some literature to control the problem on their property," Whitley said.

For more information on mosquito control, people can visit www.deh.enr.state.nc.us. The state Web site also has information regarding West Nile Virus, eastern equine encephalitis, LaCrosse encephalitis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Lyme disease, ticks, lice and bedbugs.