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State fighting back against post flood mosquito invasion
Mosquitoes have been dining on West Kentuckians for weeks.

STAGE TWO: Contractors to begin spraying standing flood waters

UPDATE: FRANKFORT, KY. (June 3, 2011) – After aerial spraying successfully reduced high mosquito populations in flooded areas of Western Kentucky, Governor Steve Beshear directed the launch of the second part of his 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,” said Gov. Beshear. “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.”

Gov. Beshear recently called together experts from his administration to develop and implement a plan to reduce the mosquito population 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 Dr. 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.”   

Dr. Brown and officials from Public Health agree that reducing the flood mosquito population is expected to further lower the chances of disease-carrying mosquitoes biting humans. 

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.

 STAGE ONE: Governor and Ag Commish join forces to fight mosquitoes in West KY

Governor Steve Beshear and Commissioner of Agriculture Richie Farmer agree on one issue: mosquitoes have become a major problem in Western Kentucky after recent flooding increased breeding populations of the blood sucking, disease carrying insects. 

That’s why Beshear and Farmer issued almost simultaneous press releases today announcing a mosquito eradication program that includes aerial spraying beginning Wednesday evening.

The Department of Agriculture’s release said that “The state has hired Clarke and Dynamic Aviation to conduct aerial mosquito control applications over more than 700,000 acres in western Kentucky this week. The rain and flooding of late April and May created ample breeding grounds for mosquitoes, and the state has received several reports of mosquito infestations.

Clarke, a global environmental products and services company based in Roselle, Ill., and Dynamic Aviation of Bridgewater, Va., has been involved in every major mosquito outbreak since 1999, including the outbreak that followed Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.

The spraying is only supposed to be deadly to mosquitoes, black flies and gnats.  The quantity of product used should amount to about a tablespoon per acre. Those with special health concerns should contact their health care provider, according to Farmer.

According to U. K. entomologist Dr. Grayson Brown, an advisor to the joint effort, aerial spraying is the only way to control the rising mosquito population in Western Kentucky. The spray is safe for humans, pets and livestock.

Dr. Brown and officials from Public Health agree that even with increases in mosquito populations, only a small percentage of mosquitoes are anticipated to carry diseases that could be transmitted to humans. However, reducing the mosquito population is expected to further lower the chances of disease-carrying mosquitoes biting humans.

“We are pleased to join forces with our sister agencies to address this nuisance,” Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer said. “The Department has the expertise and the executive branch has the resources necessary to fight the mosquito problem on a wide scale. Together, we will fulfill our obligation to protect the people of Kentucky.”

Governor Beshear took credit for implementing the task force made up of the Transportation Cabinet, the Energy and Environment Cabinet, the Finance and Administration Cabinet, the Department for Public Health, the Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Department for Local Government, the Governor’s Office on Agricultural Policy and the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.

Additional abatement activities that include ground spraying will be carried out by crews from the Transportation Cabinet working with local and state health departments. The Department of Agriculture will use its equipment and trucks to spray ditches along roadways. Weather permitting, the aerial spraying over the state parks will be finished by Memorial Day Weekend.

 “Last week I ordered the development of a comprehensive plan to reduce the current mosquito population in numerous western counties and to help diminish further outbreaks later in the summer,” Gov. Beshear said. “Today we begin implementation of that plan, and I hope our swift action will bring relief to thousands of Kentuckians as flood victims begin to recover.”

This is good news for West Kentuckians who have been fighting hordes of bugs every time they walk outside for the past several weeks. Friends who camp together twice a year cut their spring camping trip short last weekend because the bugs were so bad. Others have wondered aloud if they should plan to go to the Lakes this holiday weekend.

For those bitten with the political bug, it is a moment to be savored.  It may well be the last time candidate Beshear and candidate Farmer agree on anything.

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