In the wake of Tropical Storm Harvey’s massive floods, many square miles of standing water could breed a plague of mosquitoes. Local mosquito-control agencies are undertaking efforts to combat the anticipated swarms of bloodsucking pests.
John Marshall, director of the Galveston County Mosquito Control District, says so far things are under control. “Our marshes are starting to get fairly hot with mosquitoes,” he says, “but our neighborhoods and stuff, we’re just [now] starting to see the mosquito counts coming.” Marshall says they’ve been carrying out routine spraying operations with aircraft and trucks. “We’re hoping that we’re about a step ahead of it,” he says.
One thing that helps, Marshall says, is that Galveston County didn’t suffer as much flooding as some neighboring counties did, including Harris County. Dickinson, where Marshall’s office is located, was flooded. But, he notes, “We’re amazed at how fast the water is going down, and hopefully that took a lot of the mosquito eggs and larvae with it when it went down.” Marshall says they’re not seeing the “black clouds” of mosquitoes that often breed in the salt marshes.
As mosquito counts rise, people may be concerned about the spread of mosquito-borne diseases such as ZIKA. “So far we don’t have any diseased mosquitoes in the county,” Marshall says. “I mean, I’m sure there’s probably some West Nile around, but that’s been around for years.”
Marshall says people need to take the usual precautions: use DEET spray, keep the kids in at night when mosquitoes are active, and dump out containers of standing water where mosquitoes breed.