By Leah Allen
BC Staff Writer
Deltans have noticed over the last week or more that their outdoor activities have been flooded with pesky partners.
Although mosquitoes are not strangers to those who live here, this most recent influx is large, aggressive and extremely bothersome.
“This is the worst I have ever seen them and I was born here,” said Bern Prewitt of Advanced Mosquito Control, which is in charge of mosquito control for Cleveland.
“We are putting things in the air during the day and we are running the ground equipment in the evenings. We have been doing it every day but we are changing the formulation of the chemical we are using to see if that makes a difference,” he added.
According to a local entomologist “the Permethrin (or insecticide) used by many sprayers is a synthetic version of Pyrethrum, which naturally occurs in chrysanthemums. It will knock the insects down quickly but the length of time it remains effective depends on the formulation.”
Some cities already have a budget for mosquito abatement and spray regularly but both Shelby and Cleveland have had to increase their spraying to combat the problem.
“It’s really tough on the small towns,” said Rosedale Mayor Carey Estes. “It can be about $3,000 to have a plane fly over and spray and if a town doesn’t have it in their budget it can be a problem.”
Estes said Rosedale has not been spraying for mosquitoes but it is something the city leadership has discussed.
Mound Bayou is another city that does not normally spray for mosquitoes but City Clerk Sabrina Morton said they “will be spraying (Monday) evening.”
Shelby Street and Water Superintendent James Reed said he and his department have also stepped up their efforts to get rid of the mosquitoes.
“We started really seeing them get bad about the middle of last week,” he said.
“We had been spraying every other night but now we are going out every night and we have also recalibrated the spray truck to put out a larger volume of spray. We’re going to keep doing that until we can get them under control,” he continued.
While cities and residents are trying to combat the problem, the cause for this particular invasion of mosquitos is not certain.
There are well over 100 species of mosquitoes in the United States and they have different behaviors, breeding patterns and feeding preferences.
The large mosquitoes many are seeing across the county may be Psorophora ciliate or what many call ‘gallnippers’.
These mosquitoes are one of the largest species found in the US and are active throughout the day unlike many mosquitoes, which are usually active at dusk and dawn.
They are considered floodwater mosquitoes and “often lay their eggs in low-lying areas with damp soil and grassy overgrowth. When these areas flood following a dry period, the eggs hatch, often producing very large numbers of adult mosquitoes,” according to the University of Florida department of entomology.
These insects are consequently quite fond of farmland and pastures due to the taller grasses found there.
The mosquitoes have a flight range larger than many other species so even though cities are spraying the creatures will likely still remain for some time.
“It’s a difficult thing because we have hundreds of thousands of acres of farm land and we’re spraying in the cities but these insects are all over,” said one local entomologist.
To discourage mosquitoes in general, residents are advised to remove all areas of standing water from around their homes and mow grass and remove debris from their yards.
People are also encouraged to wear bug spray with one of the repellants approved by the Center for Disease control for protection against mosquitoes, such as DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), para-menthane-diol (PMD) or 2-undecanone.
A study published last year in the Journal of Insect Science found that “spray on repellants containing DEET (N,N-Diethly-meta-toluamide) and oil of lemon eucalyptus (active ingredient p-menthane-3, 8-diol) had the highest (effectiveness) in repelling mosquitoes compared to repellants with other ingredients.”
The good news is that this specific species of mosquito is not a vector for diseases such as Zika or West Nile so while they are quite large they are more of a nuisance than a health threat.