Published 12:00 am Monday, October 9, 2006

Region mosquito control officer says spraying, controls increase for problem


News Editor

LAPLACE – Residents of St. Charles and St. John may have noticed the above normal infestation of mosquitoes in an otherwise normally quiet season.

As the temperatures drop, the mosquito populations usually decrease. But this year, a few unusual factors have contributed to an above normal number of mosquitoes.

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita barreled through the marshes and swamps of Louisiana and Texas, destroying and disturbing the mosquito habitats. In some cases, these killer storms created new areas for mosquito breeding. Another contributing factor is the trend of mild winters. Temperatures have not dropped enough to make a significant cut in the mosquito populations.

Entomologist and general manager of Mosquito Control, Inc., Wayne Machado, addressed concerns to both St. John and St. Charles Parish Council, trying to give some answers about many complaints from area residents about the problem.

&#8220I have never seen a mosquito population like this before. Not in my entire life.” said Councilman Bryan Fabre.

District 3 St. Charles Councilman &#8220Ram” Ramchandran echoed the concerns of residents in his district to the council.

&#8220Residents are calling me about the number of mosquitoes. Seniors living in my district say they have no blood left to give. Can I tell my residents that they will see a difference after additional aerial spraying?”

&#8220We continue to use traps around the parish. I estimate that there are between 16 and 18 traps in the parish. We routinely test the mosquitoes for any sign of disease. We also use live chickens to detect the presence of disease,” said Machado. &#8220We let the mosquito populations dictate where we spray. But due to the increased number of mosquitoes, we are adding additional aerial spraying and street truck spraying.”

Aerial spraying took place in St. Charles Parish on the evenings of October 2 and 3. Planes could be seen making several passes over subdivisions and populated areas. Planes seemed to take particular interest in spraying areas behind the Mississippi levees where standing water is a common breeding ground for mosquitoes.

&#8220We are dealing with several different species of mosquitoes,” said Machado. &#8220There have been at least 12 detections of disease. We will do all we can to control the increased mosquito populations and protect residents from disease,” he concluded.

Machado also addressed the St. John Parish Council and reassured council members and parish residents that spray efforts in the area will increase as long as the mosquito populations dictate a need to do so.