Bug battle

? Several communities in Marion County are engaged in the fight against mosquitoes.

mosquito
mosquito

Summer?s here and so are the mosquitoes.

Unlike most years, officials are wary about the increased numbers state?wide given the above-average rainfall in recent weeks.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment documented this growing number of mosquitoes earlier in June.

?Although the increase in mosquitoes after the substantial rain we have had is not unexpected, we want to remind everyone to take steps to prevent mosquito bites that transmit West Nile virus,? said Ingrid Garrison, state public health veterinarian.

In 2014, 54 cases of West Nile virus were reported in Kansas, Garrison said. By mid-June of this year, KDHE reported the first case of West Nile in Lincoln County.

While state officials continue to monitor mosquito populations, most Marion County communities are already taking a proactive stance against these pests.

Marion, Peabody, Flor?ence, Goessel and Ramona are fogging for mosquitoes, while Hillsboro is not.

Hillsboro

?We are not fogging because whatever has to be done, has to be done after 11 p.m.,? City Administrator Larry Paine explained Thursday. ?That is when people stop walking around.?

Paine said Gary Andrews, golf course superintendent and coordinator of mosquito spraying within the city, told him fogging right now also would be wasting money because of the weather conditions.

?(Andrews) said he would rather wait for a right, calm environment,? he said. ?The biggest problem we have is that in order for the spray to be effective, we can?t have a wind speed higher than a certain number, otherwise we are wasting money.?

Paine said if the city sprays today it would kill flying mosquitoes, but if there are strong winds it would blow in other mosquitoes from 10 miles away.

?It would be like the city did nothing,? he said.

Beyond weather conditions, Paine said he doesn?t have anyone volunteering to spray through the night.

What we have been doing is, we react to what is going on in the mosquito environment and deal with it from that standpoint,? he said.

When people start calling, or crews notice increased mosquito activity, Paine said the city will ?go for it.?

For more information or to report mosquito concerns, call 620-947-3162.

Marion

City officials in Marion began spraying for mosquitoes weeks ago.

City Administrator Roger Holter said Marty Fredrick?son, street superintendent, is concentrating mosquito fogging on parks or anywhere close to Clear Creek or Luta Creek.

?The other thing (Fred?rickson) is doing is distributing mosquito briquettes,? Holter said. ?Wherever there is standing water, (crews) throw a briquette into it. These briquettes are slow release and the larvicide kills future offspring of the existing mosquitoes.?

Fredrickson is making the briquettes available to residents who want them.

?We are offering (briquettes) to residents because we are trying to attack breeding grounds wherever there is standing water, which is a prime location,? he said. ?By putting slow release briquettes in (standing water) it kills larva as they hatch.?

Fogging is done in the evening, and everything the city is using to combat mosquitoes is not harmful to people or animals, Holter said.

?We don?t want people to come into direct contact with the spray, which is why we do it late at night,? he said.

The city doesn?t fog every night, but Holter said staff are making reasonable attempts to fog at least once a week.

Regarding personal use, Holter suggested using products containing DEET.

?It is what we understand to be the best prevention to the spread of West Nile virus,? he said.

For questions or more information, call 620-382-3703.

Florence

Janet Robinson, city clerk of Florence, said the city started spraying for mosquitoes about two weeks ago.

?(Michelle Hartnagle, maintenance,) goes out in the evenings around 7 p.m. and fogs for a couple of hours,? Robinson said. ?She does ballfields, parks and other locations in the city.?

She said the spray is not harmful to people or pets.

Crews also use briquettes in ditches where there is standing water, but added that none of the residents have asked for these.

?I didn?t realize (Marion) handed them out,? Robinson said. ?We would give them out to residents if they asked and if we had any on hand.?

People are noticing the mosquitoes are a lot worse this year after all the rain, Robinson said, but the city will continue to spray for mosquitoes until Labor Day.

For more information, call 620-878-4296.

Peabody

City Clerk Stephanie Lago city workers in Peabody said have been spraying since early May.

?I think part of the reason we may have started a little bit earlier was because of all the heavy rains we had,? she said. ?We knew it was going to be a propagating problem.

?We also give out free briquettes to citizens to put in standing water for killing larva.?

Lago said she gave Police Chief Bruce Burke briquettes in case he saw standing water on public, not private, property.

?It?s amazing to me how we have been offering free briquettes (to the public) for years, and someone will ask what we are talking about,? she said.

Residents in Peabody interested in briquettes should call 620-983-2174.

Goessel

Jennifer S. Whitehead, Goessel city clerk, said the city has been spraying for mosquitoes for more than two weeks.

?It has helped tremendously,? she said.

Although the city doesn?t offer briquettes to residents, Whitehead recommends them.

?The public works department has been trying to spray morning and evening on the days they do spray,? she said.

For more information, call 620-367-8111.

Ramona

City Clerk Jessica Gilbert said Ramona is spraying for mosquitoes.

?We hire the city of Herington?s street department to do it, and we do it right before the July 4 event,? she said.

For more information, call 785-965-7110.

Prevention

The KDHE recommends the following precautions to protect against the West Nile virus:

? When outdoors, use insect repellent containing an EPA-registered active ingredient on skin and clothing, including DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535.

? Mosquitoes are active at dusk and dawn. In addition to using insect repellent, wear long sleeves and pants at these times or consider staying indoors during those hours.

? Make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens. Repair or replace screens that have tears.

? Get rid of mosquito breeding sites by emptying standing water from flower pots, buckets and barrels. Change the water in outdoor pet dishes and replace the water in bird baths twice weekly.

? Drill holes in tire swings so water drains out. Keep children?s wading pools empty and on their sides when they aren’t being used.

For more information about West Nile virus and preventing mosquito bites, go to: kdheks.gov/westnilevirus.