Aerial mosquito spray operation planned for Harris County

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Thursday, September 14, 2017
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Aerial mosquito spray operation planned for Harris County.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The rain left behind by Hurricane Harvey has created large areas in Harris County where mosquitoes can lay their eggs.

To address increasing numbers of mosquitoes and the risk they pose to the recovery effort and public health, the U.S. Air Force Reserve's 910th Airlift Wing flying modified C-130 cargo planes staged out of Kelly Air Force Base in San Antonio will be conducting an aerial spray operation beginning Thursday evening, September 14 and may take more than one day.

The plan is to spray approximately 600,000 acres by air, weather permitting. [CLICK HERE FOR TREATMENT MAP]

According to Dr. Umair A. Shah, executive director of Harris County Public Health (HCPH), "The goal is to reduce the effects mosquitoes are having on recovery efforts and the possibility of a future increase in mosquito-borne disease."

"Basically, these bugs fly at night and with us being able to trail and prepare and be able to fly with night vision goggles, we have increased the kill rate, if you will, of these insects," said Lt. Col. John Boccieri with the 910th Airlift Wing.

The insecticide, Dibrom (EPA-approved), will be used during the spray operation in Harris County. Dibrom is considered safe for the environment and is applied by licensed applicators, according to the label instructions.

You can view more information on Dibrom through the EPA's website as well as this resource.

For anyone concerned about exposure during the aerial spray operation, HCPH recommends people stay indoors during the evening aerial application in the treated areas as a precaution. Authorities advise beekeepers may wish to cover their colonies to prevent bees from exiting during treatment.

Residents can help control mosquitoes during the recovery effort by emptying standing water around their homes. To reduce the likelihood of being bitten by mosquitoes, residents are encouraged to use an EPA-registered mosquito repellent when outside. To keep mosquitoes out of the home, people should make sure their window and door screens fit tightly and are in good condition.

The northern third of Harris County and most of the southern section of the county are going to see this aerial spraying. The chemical is used in low concentrations, only about 1 to 2 tablespoons for every acre, but there are more than half a million acres to be sprayed.

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