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Wilson County residents should feel some relief this week from those pesky mosquitoes brought on by Hurricane Florence.
Ground spraying for mosquitoes began Tuesday evening in Saratoga and Stantonsburg and will continue until the entire county is complete, county officials said. The spraying could be interrupted due to Hurricane Michael, which is expected to bring wind and rain here. But spraying will resume for the remaining parts of the county, including the city of Wilson and other municipalities, as soon as the weather clears.
“Our goal is to have spraying wrapped up by the weekend or Monday,” said Angela Manning,Wilson County’s environmental health director.
Officials said spraying that’s already occurred won’t be affected by the storm. Since Wilson County doesn’t have a mosquito-control spraying program, it will be using a third-party vendor — Vector Disease Control International — to conduct the ground spraying. The company will spray all 1,200 road miles of Wilson County, officials said.
“The goal of the spraying is to kill all adult egg-laying mosquitoes that are currently flying,” Manning said. “That is the population from Hurricane Florence. The breeds of mosquitoes are across the board.”
Manning said the average incubation for hatching is 10 to 15 days.
“The mosquitoes that we are seeing now are post-Hurricane Florence,” she said. Officials said they aren’t worried about residuals from the spray because it is targeted toward the mosquitoes flying at the time.
“That’s why they are spraying at night,” Manning said. “That’s when mosquitoes are most active.”
‘ALL 1,200 ROAD MILES’
Gov. Roy Cooper earmarked funding for mosquito-control spraying in multiple counties, including Wilson, after Hurricane Florence. Wilson was alloted roughly $141,000.
“Our main objective is to reduce the nuisance to the public but more importantly to reduce the potential of the spread of mosquito-borne illnesses,” said Wilson County Health Director Teresa Ellen.
Ellen said with the amount of money the state allocated for Wilson, local officials were able to provide some relief to everybody here based on the quote from the third-party contractor.
“We were able to cover all 1,200 road miles,” she said.
The state funding will also be used Saturday when the Wilson County Health Department on Glendale Drive will host a drive-though event. Staff will be giving away 500 mosquito dunks and cans of spray for free to the public. The event is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“We will only have 500,” Manning said. “It is first-come, first-served and will be limited per household.”
Manning said county health officials have remained in contact with beekeepers to ensure the mosquito insecticide doesn’t kill off the county’s honeybees, which are essential pollinators for local agriculture. They’ve also been working with the Wilson County Beekeepers Association.
Beekeepers were contacted 24 hours prior to spraying. The road spray can travel a distance between 100 to 200 feet, Manning said.
“We are asking them to make a 300-feet barrier for distance,” she said. The company is also allowing the county to place beekeepers on a spraying exclusion list at individual keepers’ request.
SNAPSHOT OF LAND COUNTS
Last week, county officials conducted dozens of landing counts over a three-day period throughout multiple areas. A snapshot of those landing counts include Saratoga and Stantonsburg where 100 mosquitoes landed per minute. Lake Wilson Road toward Elm City also had a high count at 60 mosquitoes per minute. Manning said the health department received more than 200 calls from the public in regards to concerned areas.
Manning said health officials are grateful for community members’ input.
“We appreciate their patience as we work through this process,” she added.