Governments spending thousands on mosquitoes

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 17, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; How serious are local governments about fighting mosquitoes &045; and, by doing so, fighting the West Nile virus?

When it comes to mosquito control, the City of Natchez has spent more than $29,000 so far this year.

&uot;And we haven’t even started spraying yet,&uot; Public Works Director Richard Burke told aldermen during their Tuesday meeting.

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The city last week put out traps throughout the city to see which areas have the most mosquitoes &045; and, therefore, where the city should concentrate its efforts.

The city has put out 300 larvicide packets since April and has spent upwards of $29,000 on mosquito control, including $11,000 for new equipment and more than $10,000 for chemicals.

And Natchez isn’t alone in its efforts.

Adams County has applied larvicide and have distributed packets of it to residents to apply themselves. The county is also working to set up a debris pick-up day.

The Concordia Parish Police Jury on Monday voted to establish a mosquito abatement board with representatives from throughout the parish.

A mosquito control plan compiled by parish Civil Defense Director Morris White is being used by several other parishes as their model, police jurors said.

On Tuesday, Vidalia aldermen passed an ordinance requiring people with junk cars to move them out of their yards.

They also held the first reading of an ordinance that would charge property owners $150 an hour if the city has to cut their overgrown grass.

&uot;Those are directed specifically at the West Nile (virus),&uot; since mosquitoes can breed in standing containers &045; even in junk cars &045; and on overgrown lots, said Mayor Hyram Copeland.

Still, much of the burden for controlling West Nile rests with property owners themselves, said Natchez Mayor F.L. &uot;Hank&uot; Smith, who suffering from the West Nile virus last fall.

Property owners should make it a point to empty containers of standing water every few days to get rid of places where mosquitoes breed, he said.

Meanwhile, the city will selectively spray areas with the worst mosquito problems, but it will apply more larvicide, which is cheaper and most effect that sprays that kill adult mosquitoes, Smith said.