Friday, June 10, 2016

TOP STORY >> Other cities also work to control skeeters’ spread

Leader staff writer

In other areas of Pulaski and Lonoke counties, cities are paying attention to the spread of the Zika virus and other mosquito-borne diseases.

For instance, Randy McKenzie, Austin office manager, says while it’s expensive to spray for mosquitoes and adult flyers, it’s a must-do for cities.

It costs Austin as much as $6,000 a year to keep bugs at bay, he says.

Public works employees spray the entire town Monday and Thursday evenings, starting after 6:30 p.m.

“Spraying takes about three and a half hours,” McKenzie says.

He says they are already spraying and operators try to stay away from people and food sources, such as beehives, when working.

McKenzie says the city is aware of the Zika virus and is talking with its insecticide supplier about best practices, as well about possible federal money available for mosquito abatement.

According to Sherwood Public Works Department director Brian Galloway, the city sprays for mosquitoes during the peak seasons.

“We started early this year, in April,” Galloway says.

Operators cover about 160 road miles in Sherwood and spray weekly.

They use mosquito sprays and schedule their spray times to minimize any contact with children or animals that may be outside. Also, standing water is treated with larvacide to reduce future mosquito populations.

Lonoke also sprays for mosquitoes, and operators work seven nights a week, spraying every other street. Mosquito abatement is also done by air and larvacides are used.

Ward is also treating with larvacides, and once the temperatures rise, Mayor Art Brooke says the city will start spraying with insecticides.

Beebe Mayor Mike Robert-son says the city has already started its mosquito abatement program and covers its approximately four-square-mile radius three times a week.

Currently, he says, “We’re spraying three nights a week, and using pods (larvacides) in standing water.”

Karen Knebel, Cabot street superintendent, says the city has “a good program.”

She says the mosquito abatement program is at least 10 years old, and she attends classes to stay current.

“We take it seriously,” Knebel says.

The city operator works from 7 until 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and the city started spraying in May. Of course, if the wind is blowing or it’s raining, spraying is canceled.

In addition to insecticides, the city uses larvacides.

Knebel says annual abatement costs run between $12,000 and $20,000. The figure depends on the length of the spraying season, she said.