Leader Blues

Friday, August 01, 2008

TOP STORY > >Towns keeping bugs in check

Leader staff writer

So far this summer, mosquitoes have not been a big problem in Jacksonville, at least. City hall has not been getting phone calls, as in years past, from residents asking for stepped-up efforts to control the pests.

The city’s diligent efforts to spray for mosquitoes and drain areas of standing water, as well as the lack of rain lately, likely have made the difference.

“It hasn’t been bad,” says Jimmy Oakley, director of public works for the city of Jacksonville. “Last year or the year before were the worst, but we are still spraying once a week every street in town.”

Oakley suggests that residents wanting to know the mosquito-spraying schedule for their neighborhood to call his office at 982-0686.

He plans to soon post a map on the city’s Web site at www.cityofjacksonville.net to show the areas sprayed each evening.

Spraying is on Mondays, Tues-days and Wednesdays from 8:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., unless it rains, in which case there is spraying on Thursdays. Spraying starts in the west part of town and moves to the east over the course of the three days.

The spray used to kill the mosquitoes is quite safe for humans and animals, Oakley said, but individuals with respiratory problems have reported problems if they breathe the spray, so staying indoors for them is advised.

“It is not harmful unless you drink it,” Oakley said. “It is one of the safest insecticides. It is not harmful to pets, bees, or fish.”

City crews have been working on drainage problems in low-lying areas, primarily around Dupree Park as well as a large area east of North First Street toward Holland Bottoms Game and Fish Refuge area.

Oakley encourages residents to also do their part by getting rid of anything on their property that collects water, creating a breeding spot for mosquitoes.

“Anywhere water sits longer than three to seven days can breed mosquitoes,” Oakley said.

Jerrel Maxwell, Cabot’s head of public works, said Cabot’s abatement program is the same this year as last and so far, no one has complained about a problem with mosquitoes.

“We spray every night,” Maxwell said. We put out mosquito donuts to kill the mosquitoes in the larval stage.

“We put (the donuts) in standing water anywhere we find it, in ditches and swimming pools people have gone off and left,” he said.

Leader staff writer Joan Mc-Coy contributed to this article.