WILMINGTON—The days are getting longer and the weather is getting warmer which means summer barbecues and spending more time outdoors. Unfortunately, in the Southeast that also means the return of mosquitoes to the area.
Aside from ruining a perfectly good evening outdoors, mosquitoes can also cause a range of illnesses in both humans and animals.
From 2004 to 2016, diseases from mosquito, flea, and tick bites increased three times, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Mosquito-borne diseases include:
- California serogroup viruses
- Chikungunya virus
- Dengue viruses
- Eastern equine encephalitis virus
- Malaria plasmodium
- Louis encephalitis virus
- West Nile virus
- Yellow fever virus
- Zika virus
There are steps residents can take to help prevent mosquitoes from nesting at homes and backyards and in New Hanover County, as well as Brunswick County the county works to help control populations.
When mosquito populations begin to increase both New Hanover County and Brunswick will spray pesticides to help control the population. But according to Mosquito Control Supervisor for Brunswick County Jeff Brown this is typically the last resort.
Brown said Brunswick County is expecting nearly 4-inches of rain over the next four days, and expects mosquito season to commence shortly after the rain.
Tracking the bugs
Brunswick County utilizes several different methods of controlling the mosquito populations, from biological control to using larvicide to address the bugs in their infancy.
For New Hanover County a listing the different spray routes and areas to be treated can be found online, and is updated weekly.
While controlling the population of the bloodsucking bugs through pesticides can help prevent diseases and uncomfortable bites, those who want to opt out of spraying near their property can do so by letting the county know.
Although mosquitoes can cause big problems, they are generally small in size, so how exactly does the county decide when the population is high enough to warrant spraying?
According to the county’s Mosquito Control Policy, “The adult mosquito population must meet or exceed a minimum density to justify the application of pesticide. NHCHD uses two measurements to assess density of the adult mosquito population: light traps, and landing rate counts. The minimum light trap collection per night to warrant spraying of pesticide with ULV ground application equipment is 100 female mosquitoes of a species known to feed on humans. The minimum landing rate threshold to initiate ULV ground spraying is five to 10 mosquitoes within a minute based on the species and the habitat as determined by NHCHD staff.”
For those residents who are concerned with a high number of mosquitoes on their property the county also responds to complaints made by residents.
Complaints alone will not cause the county to spray for mosquitoes, but it will result in increased monitoring and a county employee will make a visit to the location of the complaint to help find a solution.
In Brunswick County Mosquito Control uses three different traps to monitor the number of mosquitos in an area, coupled with rainfall data and historical information patterns emerge and help the county know when to look for mosquito activity, Brown said.
There are 47 different types of mosquitoes found in Brunswick County, all of which have different behaviors and traits, Brown said.
The Asian Tiger Mosquito is one of the more prevalent species that Brunswick County is monitoring and is often controlled by dumping out any standing water on a property.
Pesticides sprayed by the county help control the population of mosquitoes, but there are going to be bugs that survive, but there are tips to help keep bites to a minimum.
The CDC suggests using an insect repellent containing DEET Picaridin, IR3535 oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol 2-undecanone, wearing long-sleeve shirts and pants, and making sure there is no standing water where mosquitoes can nest.
Send comments and tips to Michael.email@example.com