Call it the pest everyone loves to hate. With May showers in the air, mosquitoes are the focus of a renewed eradication campaign by the Metropolitan Health Department.
Vector control experts gathered Tuesday to demonstrate the kinds of equipment and treatment methods San Antonians can expect to see appearing in their neighborhoods.
The biggest weapon in the battle against mosquitoes is a turbine-powered blaster for bugs hiding in the hardest to reach places.
“We do have a variety of tools. It's good to be diversified in that respect, because depending on where we're treating, that's the type of tool we'll be using,” said Joel Lara with Metro Health.
The go-to tool for fighting mosquito-borne illness is a truck they call ULV, or Ultra Low Volume fogger, which targets adult mosquitoes. It is the type of truck most people will see in their neighborhoods, especially during evening hours and when winds are calm.
"We use the backpack mister for areas that we can't get the vehicles into. It allows us mobility in hard to reach areas," Lara noted.
For man-made pools like deep tire ruts in alleys, vector control workers spray an oil mixture they say is mostly mineral oil.
“You can see an immediate response. It has a residual of up to seven days,” Lara said.
While city employees are busy treating parks and public right-of-ways, they said that they must rely on the public’s help to treat private property.
“The public can conduct what we call ‘mosquito surveys’ in their front and back yards. They want to look for any standing water and they want to eliminate that standing water because it's an area where mosquitoes will breed,” Lara said. “And it doesn't take very much water for mosquitoes to breed.”
Water can collect anywhere, like a tarp covering a lawnmower or equipment in the back yard. And Lara said that unclogging gutters with leaf debris can let them drain and dry.
In a standing pool of water, technicians demonstrated a product that individuals can buy and use around their own homes. It looks like a doughnut. It’s called BTI, and it is available at home improvement stores and plant nurseries.
"One BTI dunk works to treat up to 100 square feet,” said Lara, who explained that mosquito larvae eat the bait, but other aquatic species in the same puddles are safe. "It lasts at least 30 days.”
Here’s a video with more information (app users, click here):
For more information from Metro Health about vector control, click here.