This Year's Mosquito Season Could Be A Bad One, A Georgia Expert Says

mosquito outside home

This year's mosquito season could be a bad one, a Georgia expert says. "With returned rains, I would think we're going to have populations that we haven't experienced in two to three years," said Elmer Gray, a University of Georgia public health extension specialist who focuses on mosquito education.

Surge in mosquitoes expected, expert says By Preston Sparks | Staff Writer Wednesday, May 13, 2009

This year's mosquito season could be a bad one, a Georgia expert says. "With returned rains, I would think we're going to have populations that we haven't experienced in two to three years," said Elmer Gray, a University of Georgia public health extension specialist who focuses on mosquito education. He said south Georgia has reported mosquito increases, and the Augusta area should begin seeing larger numbers in the next month. Officials blame the surge on the 18-month drought during which mosquito eggs sat waiting for water. Now those eggs are hatching.

"So what you're getting now is ... almost two years' worth of mosquito eggs hatching out," said Fred Koehle, an operations manager for Richmond County Mosquito Control, which recently began its treatments. "They're the worst I've seen in the past four years, so it's tough." Mr. Koehle said he could use extra funding and would like to add a full-time worker to run a spray truck. He said he could speed the cycle of treating the county from 41/2 weeks to three. But that won't happen this year. He said last year his office got $170,000 and an additional $50,000 from the county. "This year, we got the $170,000 and that's it," he said. At the start of this year, Mr. Koehle said, his department began enforcing a county ordinance that forbids a home or business owner from allowing standing water that breeds mosquitoes. He said he has two cases involving swimming pools pending in magistrate court. Property owners can be cited if they do nothing within 45 days of an inspection. The violation is a misdemeanor and could result in a fine of as much as $1,000, he said.

Other areas are doing their part. "We're hoping to start (larvicide granule spray treatments) this week and carry on out until the population starts getting lower," said Robbie Hunt, who is in charge of Aiken's mosquito-abatement program. Aiken County started spraying May 6, said Assistant County Administrator Todd Glover. In Columbia County, Emergency Services Director Pam Tucker said larvicide pellets are used because sprays "kill only what is in the path of the spray." She said the county is maintaining past funding for mosquito abatement. Reach Preston Sparks at (803) 648-1395, ext. 110, or preston.sparks@augustachronicle.com. CONTROL CHECKLIST - Dispose of old tires, buckets or other water-holding containers. - Fill in or drain low areas. - Clean out drains or ditches, allowing easier drainage. - Cover your trash container. - Repair any leaking pipes or faucets. - Empty plastic wading pools and store them indoors. - Fill in tree rot holes. - At least once a week, change the water in bird baths and plant pots. - Keep grass cut short and shrubs trimmed. - Make sure window and door screens are "bug tight." - Replace outdoor lights with yellow "bug" lights, which attract fewer mosquitoes. - Wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothing. Mosquitoes are attracted to dark colors. - Use a quality mosquito repellent approved by the Environment Protection Agency.

Source: City of Aiken newsletter; Columbia County Emergency Services Director Pam Tucker; Elmer Gray, University of Georgia public health extension specialist

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