Delaware’s wet weather leads to mosquito boom

Earthquake, hurricane, torrential rain, flooding and then … mosquitoes.

Just when it seemed things were getting back to normal, comes word from Delaware Mosquito Control that the state’s mosquito population is exploding.

Mosquito Control chief Bill Meredith says the combination of dry weather followed by Hurricane Irene and flooding have produced ideal conditions. He says his office is receiving hundreds of phone calls a day from mosquito-harassed residents.

“It’s pretty bad,” he said. “We’re getting complaints from all over the state due to several different species of mosquitoes.”

Meredith says the preferred method of treating the problem would be to kill the mosquito larvae – often found in standing water – before they become adults. But …

“There’s so much water now across Delaware’s landscape, we really wouldn’t know where to start.”

So Meredith says they’re using aerial spraying and ground-based fogging to kill the adult mosquitoes. Monday night, crews sprayed the area in and around Slaughter Beach. Tonight, they’ll blanket all of Smyrna and Clayton.

To keep the mosquito population under control this year, Meredith says his department will have to use more aircraft, more trucks, more spray, and more money. In a normal year, the spray budget in Delaware is $600,000. But this is not a normal year.

“We’re putting public health, welfare and safety first,” he said. “I’m really not looking that tightly at the budget, within reason. We’re going to go all out and do what we can do.”

Meredith says one concern with late summer and fall mosquitoes is that some species can carry diseases such as West Nile virus and mosquito-borne encephalitis.

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