Friday, September 15, 2006

Mosquitos To Be Shot From Air?

Aerial Spray Treatments Begin But Confusion On Who's Covered

LABELLE, Florida (September 15, 2006) -- In an effort to reduce the exploding mosquito population in the wake of tropical storm Ernesto, Hendry County announced today that aerial spraying for mosquitoes will begin Saturday, Sept.16 and run thru Sunday, Sept.17.  According to aerial applicator officials, more than 65,000 acres will be treated.

According to a press release from Clarke Mosquito Control: “The mosquito broods, or number of mosquitoes that are going to hatch, are going to be huge,” said Lester Baird, County Administrator.  “We’ve already seen a doubling of mosquito counts in the course of 10 days due to the recent storm, and we believe they will double again.  This situation requires an aerial application with a fixed-wing airplane to treat a relatively large area in a short period of time to abruptly break the breeding cycle of the mosquitoes.”

Communities that will be treated include: Felda, Pioneer, Montura Ranches and Hooker’s Point.  Applications will begin at dusk and run to approximately 1:30 a.m.   Clarke Mosquito Control will administer the aerial application.  Last month, Hendry County awarded Clarke a long-term contract to implement comprehensive surveillance and mosquito control services in those areas for the county.

In addition to this week’s aerial application, Clarke is overseeing and implementing an integrated mosquito control program that provides surveillance of the mosquito population, larval control, adult mosquito control utilizing aerial spraying and increased truck spraying.  Clarke also plans to provide public education on mosquito-borne disease prevention (such as West Nile Virus) and information on how Hendry County residents can help prevent mosquito breeding in their own yards.

Confusion Reigns On Where And Who Does Spraying

For "up-to-date mosquito control" steps including spraying by trucks that the county is taking, Clarke says to look at the county's website for planned control activities for the week.  We looked and didn't find anything there. Clarke also says "To report heavy mosquito annoyance situations, call Clarke’s Hendry County “Mosquito Hotline” at (800) 203-6485." We called and found it was answered by a Clarke employee who could not tell us any information about where the treatments were to be located, and took our address assuring us that we would be put on a list for spray treatment.  Investigation revealed however, that Hendry county has not authorized mosquito spraying for large areas of Hendry county including 99% of the homes in Port LaBelle.  Port LaBelle's Laurel Village, Eucalyptus Village and Country Village are not covered by the Clarke contract, although we could not get that information from Clarke. Hendry Special Districts office told us that the Port LaBelle Community Development District or Barron Water Control sprays Port LaBelle. Well, yes and no.

The Port LaBelle CDD does spray area in Port LaBelle EXCEPT Laurel Oaks, Eucalyptus Village, and Country Village where nearly all homes are.  Barron Water Control District does no spraying although they do mow the canal and drainage ditches regularly. Port LaBelle Unit 4's business office (Eucalyptus Village) said they have done mosquito spraying in the past but have no licensed spraying company to do the work now. They also explained that they only spray after a certain amount of complaints are received at the office.

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