HOUSTON - Harris County officials are taking precautions when it comes to mosquito control in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.
The rain left behind has created habitat in area counties where mosquitoes can lay their eggs.
To address the risk mosquitoes pose to the recovery effort and public health, the U.S. Air Force Reserve’s cargo planes staged out of Kelly Air Force Base in San Antonio plans to being conducting an aerial spray operation in the county Thursday evening. The operation may take more than one day.
The plan is to spray approximately 606,000 acres by air.
“The goal is to reduce the effects mosquitoes are having on recovery efforts and the possibility of a future increase in mosquito-borne disease,” Dr. Umair A. Shah, executive director of Harris County Public Health, said.
The insecticide, Dibrom (EPA-approved), is routinely used for aerial spray operations to combat mosquito-borne disease and will be used during the spray operation in Harris County.
In the Coastal Bend area, flight crews had a scheduled safety rest day Tuesday night and will be flying again Wednesday night. They plan to complete Lavaca County and begin spraying over Jim Wells and Kleberg counties.
On Tuesday night, the Air Force Reserve’s 910th Airlift Wing's modified C-130 cargo planes treated approximately 156,000 acres over Brazoria, Chambers and Jefferson counties.
They plan to be working over those counties again Wednesday night.
A total of approximately 3 million acres have been sprayed across all areas.
In Montgomery County, aerial spraying is scheduled to begin Thursday at sunset.
Since aerial spraying is contingent on weather and wind speed, spraying may be seen through Sept. 20.
The pilots will stop the spraying as they fly over highly populated areas.
The insecticide that will be used is Naled. According to the Centers for Disease Control, when large areas need to be treated quickly, aerial spraying is the most effective and does not present a risk to people, pets or other animals. The insecticide is dispersed by airplanes equipped with nozzles that create droplets just the right size to kill mosquitoes. Once any remaining droplets settle to the ground, they quickly break down on surfaces, in water and in sunlight.
The county issued these tips to help with mosquito control:
- Help eliminate any standing water (even small amounts) to prevent mosquitoes from laying their eggs
- If water cannot be eliminated, such as in ornamental water features, use larvicides (available at many retailers) or other control measures to minimize opportunities for breeding. For example, you might be able to add fish that eat larvae to a pond, or add a fountain or aerator to keep the water moving
- Use window and door screens to keep mosquitoes from entering your home, workplace or children’s schools
- Use Environmental Protection Agency-registered insect repellents to prevent getting bitten. Products that are EPA-registered have been confirmed to be safe and effective when you follow the directions
- Dress in light-colored clothing, long pants and long sleeves
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