City spends $100K on mosquito control

Published 10:03 am Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Thanks to the Zika virus, West Nile is not the only frightening affliction that makes humans even more wary of mosquitos. Even though no Zika-ridden mosquitos have been found in the United States thus far, Mississippians know the conditions here are ideal for the buzzers. Brookhaven residents can take comfort in knowing the city routinely works to combat the bloodsuckers.

What does the city do to control and prevent mosquitos?

Public Works Director Steve Moreton said the city budgets $100,000 each year on the chemical insecticide that trucks spray throughout the city. Last year under threats of West Nile, the city spent $150,000 on chemicals alone, Moreton said, not counting manpower.

“They spray starting in April,” Moreton said. “Last year, we went way over budget spraying because of the fear of West Nile. Now we have the Zika, so I’m sure that’ll be a big topic.”

Moreton said they spray from dusk for two to three hours on nights the wind isn’t blowing or it isn’t raining. They section the town off in four sections and spray four nights a week, every week from the first and middle of April — last year almost into October.

Ward 4 Alderman Shirley Estes said the city adds pesticide specified for mosquito larvae to ditches in which standing water accumulates. The city does this to ditches that do not drain properly to squelch the mosquito population as temperatures rise.

Moreton said while the city does this, mosquitos aren’t confined to ditches and big puddles of water, and there are many places close to the home where mosquitos can survive. Standing water in flowerpots and moist garden areas — especially bushes — are a breeding ground. Waste tires, old swimming pools and stagnant areas are a target.

Moreton said caution and preventative measures may be taken for mosquito control, such as wearing insect repellant like one would wear sunscreen, burning citronella candles, having fans for outdoor areas. There are also products to fog personal property that may be used. Many hunters may be familiar with Therma-cell, a device that has an insecticide-pad that heats up and releases the chemicals that will keep mosquitos away.

Moreton said he is sure the Zika virus will spur talks at some point, and in the meantime the city is spending thousands on chemicals and manpower to combat the mosquito population. Billy Case of the street department is going to attend a class about mosquito control and diseases this month.

Estes said while there aren’t any plans in place right now, if mosquitos carrying the virus were found in Mississippi, the city would respond accordingly.

To report an area where water collects and does not drain that might need a mosquito-larvae treatment, call the Brookhaven Public Works Department at 833-7766.