Saturday, October 24, 2020

City Asks Residents to Help Fight the Bite

Fight the BiteSummertime is here! This means outdoor fun for many, but summertime also means mosquitoes and the threat of West Nile Virus (WNV).

The City of Southlake approaches West Nile Virus protection proactively and asks residents to help “Fight the Bite.”

So what is the City doing? And how can you help?

What the City is Doing

The City of Southlake has been monitoring mosquito populations and conducting weekly testing on mosquitoes since March and currently has had no positive results.

Additionally, the mosquito that the Tarrant County Public Health Department believes is responsible for spreading the virus—Culex Quinquefasciatus—has been detected in low counts this year in Southlake, compared to this time last year.

Despite these results, Southlake’s Environmental Coordinator Christi Upton urges caution, “Though we have seen no positive tests so far and mosquito populations are low—we should not drop our guard.”

Although the City is doing its part to address the threat of West Nile Virus, the emergence of WNV is hard to predict. “The Center for Disease Control (CDC) does not have a good indication of what caused the high incident rate of 2012, but those environmental factors that may have led to the increase in disease can occur again,” adds Upton.

“In a drought Culex  populations can flourish in what scientists refer to as ‘urban drool’, a term referring to sources of water in drought conditions, including: excessive irrigation runoff, power washing runoff, leaks, poor drainage of French drains and down spouts, and other similar sources,” notes Upton. “This water ‘drools’ into storm drain systems and sits for long periods of time, breeding mosquitoes in unseen areas.”

In addition to trapping, testing, and monitoring mosquitoes, the City is following recommendations from the CDC to use integrated pest management by focusing on multiple methods to control for mosquitoes. These include: larval control (pest prevention), complaint responses, and the elimination of conditions that lead to pest infestations.

The City implements the use of adulticides – more commonly known as “spraying”—when an elevated risk is detected, such as detecting the virus in the mosquito population. Upton adds that the CDC cautions the use of pesticides and recommends its use strategically, as overexposure can lead to pesticide resistance in mosquito populations.

What Residents Can Do

Monitoring “urban drool” lends itself to the most important part of the integrated pest management system—public participation.

Upton notes, “The public’s vigilance in mosquito control is an integral part of the success of mosquito population control and preventing the spread of West Nile Virus.”

Residents are encouraged to look for sources of water in both the expected and unexpected places on a weekly basis and eliminate mosquito breeding grounds by draining standing water, covering outdoor containers, and treating undrainable areas with larvacide.

“What many people don’t realize is that backyards are unintended breeding grounds for mosquitoes,” explains Upton.  “Mosquitoes prefer stagnant water and any area that holds a little more than a teaspoon of undisturbed water for a couple of days can become a breeding ground for mosquitoes.”

In addition to protecting their property, residents are reminded to protect themselves from being bitten by wearing insect repellent containing DEET and wearing long sleeves and pants—especially at dusk and dawn.

For more information about what Southlake is doing in the area of mosquito surveillance and control, for tips on how you can protect yourself and home, or to report a mosquito problem, visit CityofSouthlake.com/FightTheBite or call 817-748-8638.