By David Lopez & Gaige Davila
They are everywhere.
Following Hurricane Hanna’s heavy rains that resulted in widespread flooding across the Rio Grande Valley, residents of Cameron County are now experiencing the inevitable pesky after-effects of the rain: mosquitoes.
Cameron County Emergency Management Operations Chief Juan Martinez said that the county began mosquito maintenance last Friday, fully covering the county and beginning their second round through the area on Tuesday.
“It’s broken down by zone,” Martinez said. “What they do is they have these traps that tell us where the highest concentration of mosquitoes are, so they hit the heavily trapped areas first, and then we work our way backward.”
Martinez also said that they sprayed only the county areas and not cities; however, if a city does not have its own mosquito maintenance effort, the county assists.
“Those small cities, like Bayview, request to borrow some of our foggers and chemicals,” he said. “Most cities have their stuff, but if they run out, they tell us.”
The county pre-identified 26 different zones for mosquito maintenance, labeled by trapping areas. “Wherever they find the most dense population of mosquitoes is where they will spray first.”
However, it is not only the night-time spraying that the county employs but also the use of larvicide during the day thrown at standing water to kill the mosquito nests.
Municipal staff across the Laguna Madre area are continuing to spray for mosquitoes, after Hurricane Hanna left standing water in Port Isabel, Laguna Vista and South Padre Island.
On South Padre Island, Public Works department crews pumped out the most affected areas of standing water, according to the city’s fire chief, Jim Pigg. South Padre Island’s Environmental Health department is working with Cameron County’s Emergency Management department to spray for mosquitoes.
In a Facebook post, South Padre Island Mayor Patrick McNulty said the city has been spraying for mosquitoes nightly, completing their third round of larvicide pellets in standing water. McNulty said in the post the city is seeking a permit to aerially spray for mosquitos across the Island and three miles north of it.
In Port Isabel, the city’s Public Works department crews are spraying nightly, from 8 p.m. to 12 a.m. and every morning from 3 a.m. to 7 a.m.
Laguna Vista sprayed for mosquitoes on August 3 and 5 in the evening, also placing larvicide pellets in standing water.
Following hurricanes, mosquito eggs laid in soil by floodwater mosquitoes hatch after an area floods, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC recommends wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants while outside and removing standing water from around their homes, such as inside buckets, planters and birdbaths.
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