Readying for the season

As the weather warms up, the county is getting ready to ramp up its efforts to battle mosquitoes, but needs permission from cities before it can begin aerial spraying.

CDC/Courtesy

LEAGUE CITY

Before any aerial spraying of insecticide to combat mosquitoes over League City and other parts of Galveston County, cities and governments will need to give permission.

The Galveston County Mosquito Control District wants permission to spray for mosquitoes over League City, a request that is a Federal Aviation Administration requirement, officials said. The council will vote Tuesday on a resolution that would allow aerial spraying.

Nothing is changing in the district, officials said. The request is an annual formality to give the district clearance for fly-over spraying of the city, officials said.

“We give each political entity the option to opt out,” said John Marshall, director of the district.

The aerial spraying supplements routine spraying by trucks from late March through early November, officials said.

Aerial spraying gets to the spots in marshes that a truck sprayer can’t reach, but it can also spray over neighborhoods.

The district sprays from an airplane when mosquito counts get to a certain level, Marshall said.

“It depends on what the weather is, what direction the wind is and if we have any special events,” Marshall said. “It depends on the situation.”

It would be too expensive to use the plane for aerial spraying on a regular basis, he said.

The plane typically flies at dawn, but only in temperatures higher than 65 degrees because the insecticide the district uses turns to a gel in cooler temperatures, officials said.

If League City does not approve spraying for mosquitoes by plane, the district expects residents will call to find out why, officials said. The county would refer those calls to city hall, city staff said.

League City began adopting mosquito abatement resolutions in 1984, staff said.

Mosquitoes can become a health concern if they are carrying diseases such as the West Nile virus or the Zika virus, Galveston County Health District spokeswoman Janae Pulliam said.

The department participates in as many outreach events as possible throughout the year to help educate people and even give them insect repellent, she said.

The outreach work has made a difference, Pulliam said.

“We ended 2017 with zero cases of West Nile and Zika, and so far we have had zero cases of either in 2018,” Pulliam said.

But not all mosquitoes cause those diseases, a University of Texas Medical Branch expert said.

Salt marsh mosquitoes are more common in Galveston County than the ones that carry West Nile and Zika, said Scott Weaver, director of the Institute for Human Infections & Immunity at the medical branch.

“The aerial spraying is mostly against salt-marsh mosquitoes,” Weaver said. “They are more of a nuisance.”

Valerie Wells: 409-683-5246; valerie.wells@galvnews.com

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