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Mosquito control taking bite out of old problem
mosquito truck
Jack Vereen, Mosquito Control director, explains how the fan in the new sprayers reaches 37,000 RPM. Radar next to the machine tracks how fast the truck is going and sprays insecticide in proportion to the truck’s speed. - photo by Photo by Alena Parker.
Mosquitoes testing positive for the West Nile Virus in Chatham County this past month proves the insect can be more than an annoying buzz in the ear or the cause of an itchy rash.
With the growing proximity of health hazards mosquitoes bring, public concern also rises.
Liberty County Mosquito Control continues to battle the problem.
“It’s a good thing to make people aware, but it’s kind of a double-edged sword,” Jack Vereen, director of Mosquito Control, said. “It’s not something we want to scare people about.”   
He noted the mosquito population is being properly controlled at the county level.
“We sprayed every area since the beginning of the season,” Vereen said.
The season typically begins in late April to early May and ends in late October or early November.
Drought, high tides, and rain determine how soon the mosquitoes arrive and leave, so insecticide spraying can vary.
“One of the larger issues is that some surrounding counties have little or no mosquito control,” Bob Sprinkel, assistant county administrator, said.
Counties with effective mosquito control departments end up dealing with mosquito populations from other counties. As Sprinkel explained, “Mosquitoes do not know the difference in the Liberty County line.”
He and Vereen work with their staff to provide the best mosquito control without wasting resources. To get the most of the insecticide, it is not sprayed in extremely warm temperatures or high winds.
“Mosquitoes, except for a few species, are not normally daytime feeders,” Vereen said.
The mosquito problem worsens at dawn and dusk, so that’s when the insecticide is sprayed.

No preferential treatment
Mosquito trucks can sometimes be seen in residential driveways. 
Sprinkel said that is not a case of preferential treatment. Some homes are far off the road and, with a 300-foot radius of the sprayers, it takes going up driveways to receive the full effects of the insecticide.    
The drivers have maps with specifically marked approved routes. Some provisions are made to consider those residents who cannot have the insecticide sprayed, such as those with asthma. 
The department’s services also move beyond spraying insecticide. They also conduct research and experiments to better understand the types of mosquitoes common to the area.  This helps determine what preventive measures to take. 
The county budget recently allowed for the purchase of four spray machines that do not have the loud noise of the old models.
“Our machines are electric, state-of-the-art and GPS tracked. They show where drivers have been, how much insecticide was put out, and how fast they went,” Sprinkel said.
Liberty County is the first county in Georgia with the new equipment.
In the future, Mosquito Control is looking into taking their prevention project into schools.
Vereen points out the “big focal point of most mosquitoes is around the house.”  He encourages people to empty any standing water they have in their yards and wear insect repellent when outdoors.
Vereen is committed to educating people about how they can help decrease the mosquito population. He is a past president of the Georgia Mosquito Control Association, member of the American Mosquito Control Association, and licensed in Georgia and South Carolina.
Sprinkel wishes more could be done in Mosquito Control. 
“Coastal areas are known for mosquitoes. It is not something we can 100 percent eradicate.
“We are doing as much as we can do. People have to do a little on their own,” Vereen said.
For more information, contact Liberty County Mosquito Control at 884-2065.
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