FRANKFORT – After aerial spraying successfully reduced high mosquito populations in flooded areas of Western Kentucky, the state will launch the second part of its mosquito abatement initiative. Beginning Monday, crews will target mosquito larvae in standing flood waters. Professional contractors conducted aerial spraying of more than 700,000 acres across Western Kentucky last week.
“Our families have enough to worry about after the floods – they don’t need the additional trouble of high populations of biting insects,” Gov. Steve Beshear said. “The follow-up tests after the spraying revealed much lower numbers of mosquitoes, and we’ll continue to work to make sure our communities have everything they need to recover from this disaster.”
The mosquito infestation was caused by standing and stagnant water left over from severe storms and flooding in late April and early May.
Crews from the Kentucky Department of Transportation and Kentucky Department of Agriculture will work with representatives from the Kentucky Department for Public Health to implement the larvicide initiative.
Local health departments and city and county governments will assist crews with identifying standing water in their communities that need to be treated. The chemicals used for these treatments are only harmful to mosquito larvae. Crews will add a granulated larvicide to targeted areas of standing water to reduce the number of emerging mosquitoes.
University of Kentucky entomologist Dr. Grayson Brown is working with the mosquito taskforce to advise and monitor the success of the mosquito abatement plan. According to Brown, aerial spraying and the larvicide treatment are the best ways to control the mosquito population in Western Kentucky.
“In some places in Western Kentucky, an unprotected person could expect 20-plus bites a minute by mosquitoes,” he said. “The insecticide spray from the aerial spraying has reduced the bite counts by about 85 percent. The larvicide treatments will further reduce this number.”
State health officials say spraying for mosquitoes is one part of a comprehensive mosquito control program. Residents can also reduce their risk of being bitten by helping to eradicate standing water in containers on their property and by taking personal protective measures, such as wearing insect repellent and long-sleeved clothing.