Dare County Mosquito Control has been hard at work trying to curb the mosquito population after more than 10 days of continual rain and standing water.
“We are spraying with our trucks pretty hard, and our spraying has increased” says Mac Gray, Vector Control Supervisor. “Typically, we have a four night window we play with which generally gives us three nights of spraying. Right now, we have a five night window, and we are trying to spray five times a week, depending on the weather.”
Dare County Mosquito Control uses a two-pronged approach when it comes to tackling a potential mosquito problem. Their spraying efforts address the existing mosquitos, but they also utilize a larvicide program to prevent larvae from hatching into a new wave of mosquitos. “We are trying to be very proactive and get a hold of the larvae before they hatch into adult mosquitos,” says Gray.
Per Dare County, the primary pesticides used in the larval control operations have very low human/mammalian toxicity. Most are very environmentally friendly, and are toxins produced by bacteria which are very specific to mosquitoes while in the larval stage. The pesticides used to control the adult mosquitoes also have very low human/mammalian toxicity, and have been used for many years. Most are “synthetic pyrethroids,” which are man-made pesticides that mimic a natural product made from chrysanthemum plants.
Spraying is generally conducted at night during the most effective time for the majority of species, and to provide the least inconvenience for residents.
However, the ability to spray, and the effectiveness of the spray, is very much dependent on the weather.
“Wind is a big factor in our spraying program,” says Gray, “…and if we’re spraying when it’s raining, the rain pushes the spray right down… But we can get out in a little mist, and our drivers are very good about working around the weather.”
Hatteras Islanders have likely already hear the familiar hum of the mosquito trucks in the evenings, and can help boost efforts by removing standing water in their own backyard whenever possible.
“In a normal situation, we advise people to tip anything that is holding water – flower pots, toys, tires, etc. If you can get rid of this excess water, it reduces the population,” says Gray. “With the amount of standing water we’ve had, it may be difficult to remove all water from the yard, but it will help control [mosquitos] around the house.”
In addition, residents with a particularly bad mosquito infestation in their neighborhood can make a service request for Dare County Mosquito Control to come out and address their area.
“We have [a service] set up so that if someone has a mosquito issue or excess mosquitos, they can email us, and we will send someone out to that site,” says Gray. “Currently with all the rain, everyone is suffering right now, so we are not concentrated on one specific area. But those requests do not fall by the wayside – the requests are still urgent, but with all this water, [addressing] the whole county is urgent.”
Residents with a dire mosquito problem in their area can notify Dare County Mosquito Control via the form found here: https://www.darenc.com/departments/public-works/mosquito-control/request-service-form.
“We do strongly suggest that people use that service request if there is an issue,” says Gray.
In the meantime, the Mosquito Control team will continue their efforts to nip a potential infestation in the bud, and will continue spraying throughout the island, and the county.
“Unfortunately the things that make Dare County beautiful are also the things that make Dare County a breeding ground for mosquitos,” says Gray, “but we are treating everything as much as we possibly can.”