City takes mosquito war to the streets

By Bobby Bryant, Editor, editor@newsandpress.net

If they see skin, they go for it.

Hurricane Florence’s rains have turned much of the Carolinas into a breeding factory for mosquitoes – bigger, badder and more bloodthirsty than any in recent memory.

Darlington County officials have gotten nearly 1,300 complaint calls about the flying pests, citizens were told at an Oct. 1 County Council meeting. For city officials, it’s been much the same story, says the city’s planning director, Lisa Chalian-Rock.

“Lots of people have been really upset,” such as moms who’ve been watching while mosquitoes dive-bombed their kids waiting at bus stops, Rock said. “We got plenty of people calling. . . . . ‘Why didn’t you come by my house?’”

The city has been stepping up its efforts to spray the mosquitoes into submission, at least until cooler fall weather helps solve the problem. A spray truck has been following the same route that city garbage trucks take; the truck has been working its way through neighborhoods Monday through Thursday, 8-11 p.m., weather permitting.

“It’s not like the old times, where we had a big cloud (of bug spray),” Rock said. “It’s not a big white cloud – you don’t see it.”

The city has been spraying neighborhoods on this schedule: On Mondays and Wednesdays, the “alphabet streets” – First, Second and Third streets and across South Main Street from Limit to Park streets. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, the truck has been working along the Country Club area, Oakdale, Williamson Park, Spring Street and North Main. The city has also been putting “bricks” into ditches filled with standing water; the bricks release chemicals that interfere with the development of mosquito larvae.

What can you do to keep from being a mosquito snack? First, let the truck work, Rock said – stay indoors from 8-11 p.m. on nights the truck is in your neighborhood. No chemicals will be released if residents are visible outdoors during those times.

A few other things can also help. Trim your grass; mosquitoes rest on overgrown grass and weeds during daylight. Get rid of buckets and other things that might collect standing water. Change the water in birdbaths. Wear long-sleeve shirts to offer the pests less of a target.

How long will the mosquito battle continue? “We pretty much spray until (the pest population) starts to come down,” Rock said.

For the county government, mosquito-related calls started coming in soon after Hurricane Florence and hit a peak the following week, said Terri Cribb, Darlington County’s development services director. The county had logged nearly 1,300 mosquito complaints, she said.

While the county does not have a resident mosquito-control program, it contracts an outside vendor, Gregory Pest Solutions of Charleston, for spraying services. Cribb said the county compiled a list of problem areas based on citizen reports and the vendor started spraying. The county has increased the spraying, she said, and now has hit more than 400 miles. Residents who wish to request mosquito spraying by the county can call 843-398-4011.

Staff Writer Samantha Lyles contributed to this story.

Author: Rachel Howell

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