This year’s rains have brought much-needed moisture to North Texas, refilling lakes, reservoirs and aquifers after years of drought. However, that moisture has facilitated a pest jokingly called by some “the state bird of Texas.”
That pest is the mosquito.
The extra rain means extra water to gather into puddles and ditches, where it can become stagnant and a breeding ground for mosquitos.
During drought years, there aren’t many mosquitos due to the lack of moisture “but this year, it’s the exact opposite,” Waxahachie health department director Sonny Wilson said, noting the city began its vector control program in May due to the increased mosquito population.
The program includes applying larvaecide to standing water in drainage ditches, culverts and other locations and the dispensing of an ultra-fine mist in neighborhoods to combat adult mosquitos.
The city also is working with Texas Public Health Supply on daytime spraying on some long drainage culverts that are favorite congregation points for adult mosquitos.
The adults prefer the cool, wet environment, Wilson said, saying the city is setting traps for the pests to monitor their population levels and to watch for West Nile virus, which can be carried by the culex mosquito.
While the area’s main mosquito presence is that of river bottom mosquitos, these represent a nuisance while “culex is the big concern,” he said, noting the species comes later in the season than the river-bottom variety.
The city uses the safest products on the market for larvaeciding and for ultra-light spraying, Wilson said, with vector control specialist Terri Munez saying Abate granules are used for standing water - the granules don’t float away, Wilson notes - and Anvil 2+2 for ultra-light spraying.
Using the larvaecide is “the best way of treating mosquitos, because when they become adults you have to go through neighborhoods with ultra-light mist,” Wilson said
The public has to be notified - usually in the newspaper - of spraying in neighborhoods before beginning, Wilson said, adding that if any resident complains about the spraying, the city will simply bypass that neighborhood and work around it.
The city does not have to publish notices prior to spraying public areas such as parks and ball fields, he said.
While the potentially fatal West Nile virus is the biggest concern, other diseases such as encephalitis can be spread by mosquitos.
The pests can also affect animals, Wilson said, noting heartworms can be spread to dogs.
For individuals seeking to protect themselves against mosquitos, Wilson recommends wearing light-colored clothing, long-sleeved shirts and using pest repellents containing DEET, adding that people should avoid spraying concentrated DEET on bare skin.
Though the city’s vector control program will help to lower the number of mosquitos in an area, it will not knock the problem out completely, Wilson said.
“We’ll never be able to get rid of them completely,” he said.
E-mail Anthony at Anthony.Trojan@waxahachiedailylight.com