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City counting mosquitoes, looking for control

POSTED: May 22, 2013 8:41 a.m.

Ronnie Cox, public-works mosquito control expert in Hinesville, demonstrates how some mosquito testing is done.

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Mosquitoes are major pests in Coastal Georgia, and according to the Mosquito Control experts with Hinesville’s Department of Public works, they’re not going away.
“People have to learn to live with them,” said Ronnie Cox, public-works mosquito control expert. “You can try to control them — and we do try — but you’ll never get rid of them.”
However, that doesn’t stop public-works employees from keeping track of the insects to get a better read on them.
Cox and former mosquito-control expert Kenna Graham recently demonstrated how public-works contractor CH2MHILL/OMI traps mosquitoes in storm drains to determine if there are any mosquito larvae present and if they’re the species that carries the West Nile Virus. Cox said he dropped chemical briquettes in storm drains around the city during the winter. He’s now setting mosquito traps in select drains to see if there are any mosquitoes present and if those found are potentially dangerous.
“Those briquettes have three different chemicals in them,” said Cox, who added that none of the chemicals are harmful to pets or wildlife. “They’re good up to 180 days and 100 square feet — regardless the depth of the water.”
Graham said they set out the traps to first determine if there are any “culex” mosquitoes, which is the species that carries the West Nile Virus. The traps also allow them to determine if the mosquito population in the drains is growing. If they find a specific number of mosquitoes in a trap, he said they’ll re-treat that drain.
Storm drains that are being tested are marked with a sign. He added that the drain cover is painted white if water is found standing in a drain for more than five days.
Most mosquitoes found within the city are not coming from storm drains, Graham said. Cox added that when they receive reports or complaints of mosquito problems in a certain area, they first check the storm drains. If there a lot of mosquitoes in the trap, the problem reported probably is from what he called container-borne mosquitoes.
Graham said container-borne mosquitoes grow in bird baths, kiddie pools, dog water dishes, wash buckets and clogged gutters. Container-borne mosquitoes remain within 100 feet of where they are born. Spraying doesn’t really accomplish a lot, he added, because the chemical has to make contact with the flying mosquito in order to kill it. The best solution to reduce the population of these types of mosquitoes is to eliminate the water sources in which they grow, he said.
With permission from the homeowner, Cox said he conducts an inspection of the premises for water sources, including all of the following: swimming pool, pond, old tires, containers, tarps and covers, boats and autos, trailers, roof gutters, planter dishes, children’s toys, pet and livestock water and excess vegetation. He checks off whatever source he finds and gives the checklist to the homeowner along with an information sheet about avoiding West Nile Virus.
Graham said local residents who would like to talk to OMI’s mosquito experts can visit their booth on Public Works Day this Thursday afternoon at the Farmers Market in Bradwell Park.

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