Mosquito concerns hit area

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 25, 2001


LAPLACE – Summer weather is here, and from now until August, it will only get hotter and hotter. People are dressing down, and it is now the season for family barbecues, afternoons sitting on the front porch and lying out by the pool. With the warm weather come annoying mosquitoes sure to harass the participants of any outdoor event, but St. John the Baptist Parish is already combatting the pesky creatures. Wayne Machado, general manager of Mosquito Control Inc. in Reserve, said that the company, rather than setting a schedule for spraying, responds to the areas where the most mosquitoes are. Contracted by the parish to handle mosquito control in St. John Parish, Mosquito Control gets updates three times a week throughout the parish as to where the problems are. Through citizen complaints and samples, the company decides where the trucks should spray or if aircraft spraying is needed in the area. According to Machado, there are 60 species of mosquitoes in Louisiana, and they deal with around a dozen types at any given time. Male mosquitoes usually emerge from the water a day before the females do. Males are not a threat to people or animals, as they feed on plant life. They wait near the breeding areas, and when the females emerge they mate. The female mosquitoes bite people for blood, and they use that protein to manufacture their eggs. Mosquito control professionals know that when the males emerge, they have 24 hours before the female mosquitoes come out. Mosquitoes, which mate once and are mated for life, are sprayed as the females emerge from the water. Machado said that they get calls throughout the parish. Before 2 p.m. each day, they decide what area needs to be sprayed that evening. Aircraft are primarily used in less-populated areas in the parish. Even though the Federal Aviation Agency approved the use of air spraying in the area, the company prefers not to use it over populated areas. They fly over the fringes of problem locations. The community is notified via cable channel 55 about which zones will be sprayed in the evenings. Machado said they begin around dusk because that’s when mosquitoes are most active. It takes approximately two hours to complete an area. Machado said one way people can keep mosquito problems down is by making sure there are no containers with water in them in the yard. “Several species breed in containers. At least two of those can transmit diseases. When you see little, wriggling things in the water, those are mosquito larvae. Most people think they’re tadpoles,” said Machado. He said it is important to empty rain water that accumulates in an open container, to change all dog water bowls weekly and to change the water in bird baths at least once a week. If someone has a pool which is not in use, Mosquito Control can supply fish to eat mosquito larvae. Anyone in charge of large, public outdoor events, such as a festival or a fair, can call the company a week in advance so extra service can be provided. For more information, call 536-6530.