News Column

Helicopters to Spray for Mosquitoes in Northern California

Jan 30, 2013

Mark Prado

The Marin-Sonoma Mosquito and Vector Control District plans on using a helicopter to fog for mosquito larvae at McInnis Park in San Rafael and Deer Island Basin in Novato Wednesday and Thursday.

District officials said the use of the helicopter is the most effective way to treat large bodies of water that are difficult to reach using ground equipment.

Automated calls to residents living within a half-mile of the spray areas were made Tuesday afternoon, officials said.

"The abundance of mosquito larvae in these areas isn't unusual for this time of year," said Erik Hawk, assistant manager for Cotati-based district. "However, the speed at which the larvae are developing is faster than in recent years, which could possibly signify an earlier and more active mosquito season."

The use of helicopter is fairly routine -- McInnis was sprayed last year -- but the decision was cause for concern for Frank Egger of Fairfax, a member of the district board.

"This is the first I'm hearing of it," Egger said Tuesday afternoon, after receiving a notice from the district. "The board had no clue. We didn't vote on this. I wish they would have let us known. This is going to raise a lot of questions and raise some eyebrows and I don't have any answers right now."

The mosquito species being targeted in this treatment are highly aggressive biters that have a long flight range. If left untreated, the mosquitoes could cause "severe

discomfort" for surrounding neighborhoods, district officials said.

Targeting the mosquitoes in the larval stage significantly reduces -- and often eliminates -- the need to take reactive measures, such as trying to control the mosquitoes after they have emerged as adults, according to the district.

A press release said the district will use the "least toxic materials available." The larvicides being used for the applications include Bti -- Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis -- a naturally occurring bacteria, and methoprene, an insect growth regulator.

Because the material is being applied directly to the water source, there are no special precautions to follow, but the district is asking that the public stay away from the spray sites for safety.

The operation is scheduled to take place over a two-day period, weather permitting.

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Distributed by MCT Information Services



Source: (c) 2013 The Marin Independent Journal (Novato, Calif.)


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