Mt. Airy group looks to rid neighborhood of pesky mosquitos

 Connie Waring explaining the program to the Town Watch. (Queen Muse/for NewsWorks)

Connie Waring explaining the program to the Town Watch. (Queen Muse/for NewsWorks)

Members of the Mt. Airy-Nippon-Bryan-Cresheim Town Watch held a meeting last week to discuss a plan to rid their neighborhood of some pesky visitors: mosquitoes.

The meeting focused on a mosquito eradication program which more than 150 households in the neighborhood took part in last summer.

Here’s how it works:

When warm weather arrives, so do mosquitos. The amount of greenery in the neighborhood makes Mt. Airy an ideal breeding ground for the tiny insects that come seeking blood and a wet place to lay their larvae eggs.

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Residents are usually instructed to spruce up any area that may have standing water that mosquitos could nest in. But the Town Watch group is doing the exact opposite. Instead of getting rid of the wet spaces mosquitos enjoy so much, the group is instructing its members to place water buckets right outside of their properties to lure the bugs in. The catch, of course, is that the water in the buckets is treated with an all-natural larvicide that kills off the insects.

The community group embraced the mosquito control strategy, which was also endorsed by Mike McGrath of the WHYY public radio show, “You Bet Your Garden,” last year.

While the program was relatively successful, the group spent most of the meeting discussing some of the pitfalls they encountered last year. One issue was raccoons and other larger animals began knocking the buckets over. While the larvicide is harmless to other life forms, it did present a nuisance as residents had to keep refilling the buckets with water and placing new larvicide “dunks” in them. So the group discussed ways to protect the treated water, which included putting a plastic or wire mesh on top of the buckets and securing it with rock or string as needed.

The second issue was the lack of participation of some neighbors.

Connie Waring, whose neighbors call her “the queen of mosquito killing,” spearheaded sales of the supplies needed to create the mosquito traps. Waring says the program can only be successful with maximum participation.

“As long as we have yards that are untreated, we’ll always have mosquitos laying eggs in those yards. So it is to everybody’s advantage to get these to as many people as possible to participate,” she said. “It only works if you do it as a community. It has to be widespread to be effective.”

Town Watch member Sheila Erlbaum said she bought extra “dunks’ from Waring last year and went door-to-door, selling them to everyone on her block, and she plans to do the same this year.

“You just do the best you can, and you get as many people as you can to do it. It’s all-natural, it’s easy to do. So for the people who don’t want to do it, you can do it for them,” she said.

Waring plans to begin selling the supplies needed to create the mosquito traps on May 17.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to Town Watch member Sheila Erlbaum as Sheila Urbaum. NewsWorks regrets the error. 

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