Itchy mosquito season is about to debut or has already begun, and the street departments of local communities are biting back with preemptive strikes.
Wauseon’s Public Works Department attacks mosquito larva sites during the spring to help keep the pests in check during the summer. Assistant Superintendent John Arps said the department drops treated briquettes into every location of standing water that can be found. They release a film that suffocates larva that are present.
The process, which begins in April, is likely the most effective way of defeating the problem, Arps said. He said a small butter tub of warm water can breed thousands of mosquitoes, which can develop from eggs to full-grown mosquitoes in about five days.
Standing water is “a huge breeding ground,” Arps said, so outside containers holding water for more than one week should be emptied, and the water replaced.
The city sprays its streets twice each week, at present usually between 8-10 p.m. That’s when mosquitoes become active and will fly into the spray. The city uses Duet, an insecticide produced by Clark Industries of Chicago.
And the process isn’t cheap. One 55-gallon drum of Duet costs $10,000, and city sprayers can use five gallons in a single night. Fortunately, Arps said, there have been particularly dry summers when the city hasn’t needed to spray.
“Overall, we’re doing all we can do,” he said.
As of last week, the Village of Swanton Public Works and Utilities Department hadn’t begun to spray for mosquitoes. Administrator Rosanna Hoelzle said that will change as the weather warms.
The village spends about $3,000 annually on mosquito abatement, and contracts for spray from Univar, an Illionis-based chemical company. Spray is dispensed as needed throughout the summer months in the evenings, when it’s most effective. Hoelzle said residents can notify the Division of Public Service when the need increases in specific parts of the village.
In Delta, the village is sprayed Thursdays from 8:30-11:30 p.m., weather permitting. Street crews also occasionally seed standing water to kill larva. Street Superintendent Bob Cass said citizens can help by emptying any outdoor vessel holding water.
The Village of Archbold battles mosquitoes from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Two spraying trucks tackle village streets each Thursday beginning at 8 p.m., also using product from Clark Industries. Extra sprays are completed when the mosquitoes increase.
“We hit everything in the village limits that we can get to,” said Jake Wyse, assistant street superintendent. “I think it works very well.”
The village also works proactively, conducting mosquito larva sightings in the spring and treating standing water to elminate breeding spots. “We stop it before it starts,” Wyse said.
He said complaints from citizens are few, but when they’re received “it’s usually letting us know that they’re getting bitten.”
Street Superintendent Jason Martz said the village spends between $15,000-$20,000 on mosquito control in a season. That cost can vary according to the amount of rainfall during a summer. Martz said there are less expensive insecticides but they aren’t as effective.
The unofficial word is that this year’s wet spring may result in more mosquitoes, but locally they shouldn’t pose much of a health concern, said Pat Wiemken, Fulton County Health Department’s environmental health director.
She said there are concerns that West Nile virus could be more prevalent with an increase in mosquitoes. But the virus is typically not fatal, and in most cases those who contract it won’t realize they have it, she said. Symptoms usually last about a week and resemble those of the flu.
Other viruses carried by mosquitoes include the St. Louis encephalitis virus and the LaCrosse virus. Both cause fever and muscle soreness, and in severe cases the St. Louis virus can cause inflammation of the brain. Both viruses have been detected in Ohio but both are also very rare in the state.
Mosquitoes can also carry the Zika virus, malaria, and dengue fever, but those illnesses are usually contracted abroad, and there are no known cases locally, Zeimken said.
“Most of the breeds of mosquitoes are not a problem,” she said.
To avoid mosquito bites, it’s best to use repellent and wear long sleeves, pants, and socks when outdoors, Ziemken advised.
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.