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Tuesday, June 25th, 2013
The mosquito season is upon all of us. Having a very wet June, we can expect hoards of mosquitoes. This also seems to be a year with more ticks than normal. I have received some phones calls asking about general spraying which is not likely to happen.
I’ve had meetings with Niagara County’s mosquito control specialist as well as two agents from New York’s DEC and the tick specialist from New York State regarding nuisance insect control.
We talked a great deal about general spraying for mosquito or tick control. The problem is, we cannot spray in a manner which will spray into any wetlands, woodlands nor any creeks without a DEC permit, and we cannot get a permit without expensive, professional monitoring which shows that there is a public health hazard such as West Nile or other insect borne diseases.
There is also the concern for public safety. Nobody can lawfully tell you that the mosquito sprays are safe; there are possible consequences with any spraying of pesticides. The professionals who handle these poisons take great precautions to ensure their own health when they spray an orchard or farm crop. There are good reasons for telling you to go into your home and stay there while such sprays are being applied from the air…and to keep your pets in the house for a couple of days.
Insect spraying is a short term, feel good fix for the nuisance factor of mosquitos. The spray will sit on tree leaves, plants and grasses and when an adult mosquito lights, feeds or drinks there, it will be poisoned and die. This process may kill one round of mosquito life, and will help for a few days. However, the spray does not kill the larvae, nor does it kill the mosquitos outside the spray areas. Within a few days, new larvae hatch, the problem returns. Should it rain, the mosquito spray is washed away and is ineffective.
For these reasons, in my discussions with other Niagara County Supervisors, there are none who are planning to do general mosquito spraying this year unless they become a health hazard.
Mosquitoes germinate in standing water. After a female mosquito has bitten an animal, a bird or frog, or a person, she will lay her eggs in any standing water which is available where the eggs will reside for 10 days, then hatch into hungry adults. Moving water, such as a creek, even wavy water, such as a detention pond, will generally not support mosquito larvae. Ponds, wetlands and man-made items are where they will grow to become adult mosquitoes.
You can do a lot to help yourself. Look around your yards for standing water: low spots in gutters can germinate thousands of mosquitoes. An old tire in the yard, a can, a bird bath, a leaky faucet which leaves a puddle behind, even a junk container out back can be huge breeding grounds for mosquitoes, even in developments. It is said that mosquitoes are seldom found more than 300 feet from where they germinate, so you don’t have to look far for a source of germination.
You can eradicate local breeding grounds by getting rid of standing water. Mosquito dunks are available at Home Depot or at the Water Department; closely follow the label instructions. Some of the yard sprays do very well for a few days, killing the mosquitoes which reside in your bushes, flowers and grass waiting for a good time to come out. If you live near a mosquito infested area, you may want to protect yourself and your kids by wearing lightweight, full clothing and using repellant.
Ticks usually hang onto grasses or bushes and will get onto you when you walk through these areas. Wearing long pants and long sleeves help, tucking in socks helps protect against ticks. And a quick body check when you come in will help as well. And if you do have a tick, speak with your doctor as to what may be best for you.
I will keep in touch with the experts at the Niagara County Health Department. If we find that mosquitoes are likely to become a public health menace (as opposed to a nuisance), we will work with the County to determine the best plan of action.
Who knows, we might even get a good run of summer weather and leave much of this nuisance behind us.
Supervisor: Robert B. Cliffe
Town of Wheatfield
Upper Level - Town Hall
2800 Church Road
Wheatfield, NY 14120-1099
Hours: 9:00am-4:30pm, M-F
Phone: (716) 694-6440
Fax: (716) 694-5419