A new mosquito control method being used by Laurinburg aims to kill the pests before they ever leave the water where they hatched.
Called “larval mosquito control,” the new method involves introducing an environmentally friendly bacteria into water where mosquitoes are breeding. The bacteria kills the mosquitoes as larva, before they can every sprout wings and fly away.
Following recent reports of West Nile Virus cases in North Carolina, local attention has turned to mosquito control methods used by the city.
The most visible element of mosquito control, the insecticide spraying truck, is no longer being employed. City officials hope the larvicide (known as Bacillus thuringiensis) will have more success than spraying at nearly a quarter the cost.
“In the past we sprayed for mosquitoes, until the state came up with very stringent regulations that made it very cost prohibitive for cities and towns in North Carolina to pay to spray,” said City Manager Ed Burchins.
Following the new regulations by the state, which included an extensive permitting process that led to a yearly cost for spraying of about $100,000, the city studied alternatives to spraying being used in other cities and counties around the state. The larvicide method will cost approximately $25,000 per year.
“We have been introducing the bacterial larvicide into our drainage ditches and some waterways where we know we’ve had some mosquitoes in the past. This method is safer for the environment and will have a greater impact on the larvae than spraying does,” Burchins said.
The NC Mosquito and Vector Control association maintains that “wherever possible, it is best to use larval mosquito control.”
Started in the spring of this year, the city’s new program depends on Laurinburg residents getting involved in the mosquito control effort.
“What we are asking people to do is if they notice any standing water or mosquito breeding areas to call 276-2364. We will come out and treat those areas,” Burchins said.
The city is also asking homeowners to be vigilant in limiting standing water on their property.
“We’ve even heard of mosquitoes forming in water bowls for animals,” Burchins said.
Since the spring the city has been introducing larvicide tablets into standing water and removing any water obstructions they find, including beaver dams, logs and other items that may clog waterways.
While the old sprayer may have given residents peace of mind because of its visibility, Burchins was dubious about its actual effect on the mosquito population.
“We think this is more effective, but in order to be successful it has to have a two pronged approach. The city will take care of the public areas and we need homeowners to take care of their property,” Burchins said.