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Summer means mealtime for mosquitoes

  • Published
  • By Nick Stubbs
  • Thunderbolt editor
Warm weather upon us, it's a time for family picnics and good outdoor eating. That goes for mosquitoes, as well. 

While tube steaks and burgers rank as good barbecue eats, mosquitoes want to suck your blood. It's a small withdrawal from a human body, but it's what they leave behind that matters, not what they take. 

"They can spread disease," said Bill Murphy, who heads up pest control for Chugach on base. Each year about this time, he and his crews work diligently to try and reduce the population of mosquitoes on base. So far, they are as under control as can be expected, he said, but everyone should be vigilant to help reduce the mosquito population, he added. 

"If you see standing water or containers holding water, empty them," he advised. "Just a cup of water in the crook of a tree is enough to breed hundreds of thousands of mosquitoes." 

There was a mosquito explosion after the heavy rains at the start of summer, he said. But drier weather of late has given us some "breathing room and a break," said Mr. Murphy. 

"We got a pretty good handle on it right now," he said. "But that could change quickly if we get more rain." 

MacDill is a great habitat for mosquitoes, with plenty of wetland areas toward the south end of the base. It is there where a lot of the larvae grow, and where larvaecide efforts are carried out by Chugach, Mr. Murphy said. 

A special chemical that kills the larvae in the water without harming fish or plants is applied. The primary target is the salt marsh mosquito, a big, aggressive species that bite during the day. 

"The bad thing is you can never eliminate them," said Mr. Murphy. "Even if you get every one on base, they can fly in from 25 miles away in no time." 

To kill adult mosquitoes, machine fogging is used. Workers carry hand-held foggers, hitting areas of brush in damp sections of the base. It is very effective, but again, just a control measure. 

"You are limited to how much area you can actually fog," said Mr. Murphy.
Mr. Murphy said base residents and workers exposed to mosquitoes can apply repellants to help fend off the biting creatures, but that overall mosquitoes should be viewed as just a fact of life in Florida.