Despite rain, EC not hearing many mosquito complaints

MED Zika Virus Q A

Despite record rainfall since June 1, Elizabeth City officials haven't received a lot of complaints about mosquitoes this summer, the city manager says.


By William F. West
Staff Writer

Friday, August 10, 2018

Like two things that go together too well, you can typically expect to see a lot of mosquitoes if you’ve had a lot of rainfall. 

That hasn’t been the case yet in Elizabeth City, however, despite the record rainfall in the region since June 1 that’s left standing water nearly daily.

City Manager Rich Olson said this week the city thus far hasn’t received many complaints about mosquitoes this summer.

"From the city's perspective, because of the amount of moisture and some of the standing water, we would have expected to have more mosquito complaints than we've had, to be honest with you,” he said Wednesday afternoon.

Olson attributed the small number of complaints to the city’s aggressive mosquito-abatement program.

According to Olson, the city budgets about $12,000 annually just on the chemicals used for mosquito abatement. The city uses a machine mounted on a truck to spray and disperse the chemical. The machine creates a fog that drifts approximately 400 feet from either side of the truck.

Olson said the city usually sprays for mosquitoes twice a week during the summer months. But sometimes, based on complaints, the city may spray as many as four times a week, he said. Last week, for example, was one such week.

The goal, he said, is to spray half of the city one day and the other half the next day.

When the spraying happens also depends on weather, he noted. That’s because the machine, to be effective, needs to be operated when the wind speed is no greater than about 10 mph.

Asked if this summer’s heavy rainfall has had an impact on the city's ability to spray for mosquitoes, Olson said it has.

"Because of the rainy weather, it has limited some of the days that we would normally go out" and spray, he said.

Asked if there are any particular areas or neighborhoods where there’s more concern about mosquito counts, Olson said no.

“We don't have one area that voices concerns more than other areas,” he said.

Not everyone likes the fact the city sprays chemicals into the air to kill mosquitoes.

For that reason, the city doesn't exclusive rely on airborne spraying in its mosquito-abatement program, Olson said. For example, the city will place briquettes of insecticide in standing water rather than spraying it.

“We put them down storm drains that hold water because usually there's water down there,” Olson said

He noted that stormwater retention ponds have the potential to turn into breeding grounds for mosquitoes. So, the city uses aerating-like devices to make the water in retention ponds bubble.

“That's one of the things that help decrease the mosquitoes,” he said.