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Editorial: Early spring is the time to begin mosquito control

March 19, 2019

Spring officially arrives this week, and with it comes Delaware’s mosquito control program. Starting this week, helicopters will begin spraying wet, woodland areas to kill mosquito larvae before they develop into mosquitos.

The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control says in most years, about 10,000 wet, wooded acres are sprayed. Unfortunately, this is not most years.

This year’s rainy, wet weather has left behind up to 10 times more woodland pools as usual – adding up to 100,000 acres.

DNREC says it’s not possible to spray all this acreage, so this year, the program will target woodlands near populated areas using the insecticide Bti. Derived from bacteria, Bti is not toxic to humans or pets – but it’s extremely toxic to mosquito larvae.

Still, DNREC clearly can’t do it all this year.

We can all do our part to reduce mosquito populations by eliminating places where mosquito larvae thrive – in any pool or puddle of standing water.
For starters, DNREC urges everyone to empty backyard containers, clean clogged rain gutters and downspout extenders, keep the water in bird baths fresh, and drain abandoned swimming pools.

Water can collect almost anywhere, in scrap tires, cans, buckets, flower pot saucers, children’s toys, uncovered trash cans, and depressions in tarps covering boats or other objects stored outside. So look around and try to eliminate as much standing water as possible.

Larvae thrive even in small pools of water. They are not only annoying; some mosquitoes, such as the Asian tiger, are known to carry serious viruses, including West Nile. Reducing pools of water around your home now will help reduce the number of mosquitoes plaguing your home and our communities later this spring. Bti is also commercially available, so homeowners can use it on standing water that cannot easily be drained.

The public can learn about locations and times of spraying for mosquitoes by calling 800-338-8181 toll-free or going to Mosquito Control’s Spray Zone Notification System at http://de.gov/mosquitospray.

  • Editorials are considered by the editorial board and written by Dennis Forney, publisher, and Laura Ritter, news editor, with occasional contributions from other board members: Trish Vernon, editor; Dave Frederick, sports editor emeritus; Jen Ellingsworth, associate editor; Nick Roth, sports editor; and Chris Rausch, associate publisher.