Glynn County Mosquito Control Services has been working to keep the pest’s population down following Hurricane Irma, and has been seeing success, mosquito control experts said Friday.
“After the storm, we experienced an approximately 46 percent increase in our (light trap) mosquito population numbers, which peaked, as expected, about 10 days after the storm event,” said Jessi Howard, mosquito control manager and entomologist.
The various tactics used by mosquito control have reduced the population by 65 percent from its peak, Howard said. While that’s still higher than normal, the population is steadily decreasing. Efforts to kill mosquitos growing in standing water are still ongoing.
Howard’s population estimates come from the number caught in New Jersey light traps. The traps use a light to draw mosquitoes into a cylinder, where they are sucked into a holding container by a fan.
“(Light traps are) the most appropriate surveillance tool for this kind of analysis, as it reflects not only overall population density changes and trends, but also conveys species-specific information,” Howard said.
As an example, Howard said different species of mosquitos breed in different places. Mosquitos breed in a number of habitats —some in tree holes or artificial containers while some breed in swamps. If the number of mosquitos known to breed in a freshwater swamp is drastically increasing, they know where to focus their efforts, she said.
Mosquito control also increased the coverage of adulticide spray by 63 percent compared to years without major storms. Adulticide is a chemical used to kill adult mosquitos. More than 17,000 acres were treated by aerial spraying of adulticide last week.
In the weeks since the storm, Howard said mosquito control has increased nighttime spray truck activity by 75 percent. Howard said mosquito control has been responding to all service requests within 48 hours, and they have seen a significant decline in the number of requests being submitted daily, dropping from 112 service requests last week to 15 this week.
Spray trucks will continue to roll throughout the county seven nights a week, weather permitting, until further notice.
Following the hurricane, Howard said there would likely be a temporary spike in the species of mosquito known to carry West Nile virus, but it didn’t mean there would be an increase in the number of mosquitoes actually carrying it. Mosquitoes have been sent off to be tested, and she said so far all have come back negative for the disease as of Friday.
Howard said the mosquitos are tested at a lab in Louisiana. There, they are tested for mosquito-born diseases including West Nile virus, eastern equine encephalitis, and St. Louis encephalitis.
Howard encouraged the public to stop by mosquito control’s booth at CoastFest on Saturday. Staff will be on-hand to answer questions and will have informational brochures. They will also have live larvae, pupae and adult mosquitoes on display.
They will have activities for children as well, including a mosquito mask decorating station and a craft area where kids can make a pipe cleaner mosquito. CoastFest will be behind the Department of Natural Resources headquarters, 1 Conservation Way in Brunswick.
For more information or to make a service request, call 912-217-6300. Service requests can also be placed at Glynn County Public Works’ website, glynncounty.org/71/public-works.