To the many itchy, involuntary blood donors visited in recent weeks by a horde of airborne pests: the cavalry is coming.
County officials announced Thursday that the county anticipates beginning its ground spraying for mosquitoes as early as this Monday, Oct. 8. Crews will spray, using a truck-mounted spray device, from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. each night, when mosquitoes are the most active. The spraying will occur along all state-maintained roads in the unincorporated areas of the county and on as many subdivision roads as funding will allow.
Public Works director Linwood Reynolds said the county has plans to spray about 100 miles every night beginning Monday, and continue for the next three weeks, or until resources are gone.
The City of Clinton, along with Roseboro, Garland and Newton Grove have already sprayed or are in the process.
County crews will utilize maps provided by the state to identify spray-exclusion areas with endangered or threatened critical habitat and organic farms. According to Sampson officials, the foggers will use the chemical Envion, a water-based, ready-to-use mosquito adulticide containing Permethrin and Piperonyl butoxide. The mist extends about 30 feet from the foggers, or about 15 feet on each side of the road. It dissipates and does not stick to surfaces.
“There are about 1,600 miles of roadways in the unincorporated areas of Sampson County,” Reynolds said. “Our goal is to spray about 100 miles each night and to complete the process in about 20 nights, or until our supply of chemical is exhausted.”
Sampson County has not had a mosquito vector control program for many years due to the lack of state funding. As a disaster-declared county in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, Sampson was allocated $95,660 in funding from the Division of Public Health for mosquito abatement activities.
The mosquito issue was discussed by county officials earlier this week, with Manager Ed Causey and Health Director Wanda Robinson saying they had been inundated with calls from concerned citizens. Governor Roy Cooper last week ordered $4 million to fund mosquito control efforts in the 27 counties placed under a major disaster declaration, including Sampson. Robinson, Causey and others were devising a plan of attack for the money.
By Thursday, some of that operating procedure was coming into focus. Part of that will include the City of Clinton loaning mosquito-spraying equipment to the county.
“We are grateful for the state funding and to the City of Clinton which will allow us to begin to provide some relief, and a critical health service, to our citizens who have been besieged by the explosion in the mosquito population in the aftermath of the storm, particularly in those areas that saw the majority of the flooding,” Causey said in a prepared statement. “The funds are limited for a county as large as ours geographically and sparsely populated in many areas, but we are trying to use those limited resources to provide the best measure of relief possible.”
The spray that will be utilized is an adulticide and will not kill mosquito larvae, so citizens will still have to be vigilant in eliminating mosquito habitats on their properties, county officials said. The best course of action is “Tip and Toss” — tip over all containers that can hold standing water (flowerpots, gutters, buckets, pool covers, pet water dishes, discarded tires, etc.) and toss out any trash.
Citizens should also reduce their exposure to mosquitoes by wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants while outdoors and using mosquito-repellent that contains DEET or an equivalent when outside, using caution when applying to children.
Managing Editor Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 2587.