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Published: 7/8/2006

'Perfect storm' creates perfect swarm of pests

BY ERIC LUND
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Dan Zegarac of the Toledo Area Sanitary District sprays BTI, a safe chemical for people but not mosquitoes, in Holland. Dan Zegarac of the Toledo Area Sanitary District sprays BTI, a safe chemical for people but not mosquitoes, in Holland.
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Despite mosquito control efforts, area residents will continue to be unwilling blood donors after recent weather conditions created a "perfect storm" for the pest's population growth.

Mosquito population spikes occur about two weeks after significant rainfall during warm weather, which can cause eggs that have lain dormant for up to a few years to hatch. Because of recent rainfall, mosquito populations are much higher than those seen during the last decade.

Lee Mitchell, a biologist with the Toledo Area Sanitary District, said spraying - which kills adult mosquitoes - is up at least 25 percent in Lucas County as health officials try to catch up with a mosquito population boom caused by heavy rainfall in May, the storm two weeks ago that dropped 3 to 7 inches of water, and another few inches of rain last weekend.

"You have outbreak on top of outbreak on top of outbreak," Mr. Mitchell said. "A lot of these eggs have been out there just waiting to be hatched. This is part of that perfect storm equation."

Mr. Mitchell said 14 mosquito traps are scattered around Lucas County to gauge the population. Normally, a trap snares about 20 mosquitoes a night. Lately, several hundred have been found in some of the traps, he said.

"It's very bad this year," Mr. Mitchell said, adding his department has been working overtime to control the mosquitoes. "They've been whipping us this week. We knew it was coming."

Mr. Mitchell said he isn't worried about an increase in diseases - such as West Nile Virus - as a result of the growing mosquito population. The floodwater mosquito, which is largely responsible for the population increase, is a pest species and not known for spreading disease, he said.

Still, he said the area has dozens of species of mosquitoes.

Millbury resident Dan Vail said he saw a larger species of mosquito - three to four times regular size, he said - last weekend while attending a Fourth of July party at Maumee Bay State Park.

"They were ferocious," said Mr. Vail, who added that he's camped in other mosquito-ridden locales, such as northern Michigan and the Florida Keys. "They were not stopped by the wind, by the smoke of the fireworks, by [mosquito repellent]."

Walt Wilburn, a supervisor for Bedford Township, said workers are putting in overtime to spray, and he recommended that residents take steps to minimize the mosquito population around them.

Mr. Wilburn said mosquito foggers, which cost about $30, can be effective, as can eliminating standing water that mosquitoes need to reproduce.

Mr. Mitchell said eastern areas of Lucas County were sprayed last night as well as rural areas of the western part of the county.

Other western areas of the county, including Sylvania, Holland, and Whitehouse, will not be sprayed until early next week.

Additional spraying will be done a few days before the Triple-A All-Star Game on Wednesday and next week's Jamie Farr Classic at Highland Meadows Golf Club in Sylvania.

"We don't want Jamie Farr being bitten out there," Mr. Mitchell said.

Greg Kuhr, operations supervisor for the Perrysburg public service department, said after receiving a large number of complaints, his department is considering whether to increase spraying.

Currently, Perrysburg sprays once a week, he said.

"If this nuisance persists the way it is, we probably will step up to twice a week," Mr. Kuhr said.

Contact Eric Lund at:

elund@theblade.com

or 419-724-6050.



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