Aerial route designed to kill mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus
Denton County officials are set to begin aerial spraying to combat mosquitoes carrying the West Nile virus tonight and Friday night.
After an emergency declaration and appeal for state resources by County Judge Mary Horn last week, officials made plans to conduct the aerial spraying.
“I’m confident that the aerial spraying will reduce the number of adult mosquitoes drastically,” said Bing Burton, Denton County Health Department director. “That won’t end the need for the other strategies, education, ground spraying and larvacide, but it should give us a chance to get a little ahead in our ability to combat this disease.”
He said 134 cases of West Nile virus have been diagnosed in the county.
The spraying is scheduled to start at 9 p.m. and end at 2 a.m. both days.
Denton was one of several cities that chose to not have aerial spraying, but Denton officials have scheduled more ground spraying tonight on the city’s east side. The trucks will begin spraying at about 10 p.m., following a route that covers neighborhoods north, east and south of the Texas Woman’s University golf course.
Burton said that areas that have large outdoor gatherings, such as sporting events, will be sprayed much later in the night.
Officials have noted that while residents of cities that opted out of the spraying may see aircraft near them, those planes have the technology to ensure they are only spraying the intended areas.
Jamie Moore, spokesman for the county’s emergency management department, said there is no spraying order for the county and that the process will be up to the service provider, Clarke.
“We just know the start time and end time — they will cover the entire county the first night and reapply it the second night. Everyone who will get it is on the list,” he said.
Four to five planes flying about 300 feet in the air will provide the spray. The planes spray a swath 1,000 feet wide. About a ketchup packet of the chemical will be used per acre, Moore said, a much lower concentration than the formula used in ground spraying.
“One of the great attributes to the chemical used — the most unique piece is not only how effective it is but how quickly it degrades,” Moore said.
Five hours after application, the chemical begins to degrade, and once the sun hits it, the degradation process is completed and there are no residual traces.
“It’s sprayed at night, and by the time [people] wake up in the morning and the sun comes out, all the chemical will be gone,” Moore said.
Staff reporter Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe contributed to this report.
BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .
Aerial spraying is considered to be an effective and safe way to kill adult mosquitoes in large, densely populated areas. The pesticide is approved by the Environmental Protection Agency and is safe for humans and animals in the dosage being used. People who wish to exercise an abundance of caution may take the following measures to minimize exposure:
• Avoid being outside during spraying; close windows and keep pets inside.
• If skin or clothes are exposed, wash them with soap and water.
• Rinse homegrown fruits and vegetables with water as a general precautionary measure.
• Cover small ornamental fish ponds.
• Because the chemical breaks down quickly in sunlight and water, no special precautions are suggested for outdoor swimming areas.
• For more information, visit the Denton County Health Department West Nile virus website, www.dentoncounty.com/heart/wnv , or call the West Nile hotline at 940-349-2907 for more details about symptoms, prevention tips, countywide contacts, reducing mosquitoes around your home, and disease statistics.
• For spraying maps and more information, visit www.cityofdenton.com or call 940-349-7150.
The following are the area municipalities that have decided whether to allow aerial spraying.
Agreed to spraying: Aubrey, Copper Canyon, Corral City, Crossroads, Dish, Double Oak, Flower Mound, Hackberry, Haslet, Hickory Creek, Highland Village, Justin, Krugerville, Krum, Lake Dallas, Lakewood Village, Lewisville, Lincoln Park, Northlake, Oak Point, Pilot Point, Ponder, Prosper (Denton County only), Providence Village, Roanoke, Sanger, Shady Shores, Southlake, Trophy Club and Westlake
Declined spraying: Argyle, Bartonville, Corinth, Denton, Fort Worth, Frisco, Hebron, Little Elm, Plano and The Colony
Previously sprayed: Carrollton, Coppell and Dallas