Lubbock’s Vector Control has been busy every day, monitoring bodies of water around town for mosquito larvae– or baby mosquitoes. In the past week, they’ve started to find more and more. They said that warm weather on the South Plains has created the right conditions for these larvae
“The outside temperatures [help] and we haven’t had much rain but it doesn’t take much water to generate the life cycle,” explained Michael Andrews who is a Vector Technician for Lubbock Vector Control.
Vector Control has already set traps around Lubbock for mosquitoes, but so far they have only found “winter mosquitoes” in those traps, not the types which carry viruses like Zika or West Nile. But with the presence of larvae in the water Vector Control expects that more of the type of mosquitoes that can carry those viruses will be around Lubbock within eight to ten days.
Wherever Vector control finds mosquito larvae, they begin using a combination of chemicals to kill the insects.
When those adult mosquitoes start turning up in Vector Control traps, the city will begin fogging to kill those mosquitoes.
“We call it source reduction, when we are getting them in the water because if you are using the right chemical at the right time, you can get 95 percent of the larvae in the water,” said Wayne Gellido, Entomologist for the City of Lubbock. Gellido works to identify mosquitoes and larvae Vector Control collects, then send them off for testing.
Andrews added that these mosquito larvae will always be found in a body of water, often in small containers, abandoned tires, or playa lakes.
“We dip [in bodies of water] for the larvae, that’s the number one step: locate the larvae. Number two step: then we’ll treat for the larvae to keep them form becoming adults, and that’s everywhere we find water sources,” Andrews said.
They treat bodies of water thoroughly with several different chemicals to decrease the chance of larvae survival.
Andrews explained, “it’s a biological chemical agent, they feed on it, it goes into water. We use liquid larvicide as well and that helps put a film on top of the water.”
“If you find larvae you want to go ahead and treat them, because you don’t want them to become adult mosquitoes and become a problem, so that’s why we’re so proactive is to catch them early, then treat them. I mean we’re not gonna get them all–absolutely not–but we are doing the most we can to eliminate all the adult mosquitoes,” Andrews said.
Gellido added that it will be crucial for the public to remember to use DEET-based repellant, wear long sleeves, and drain standing water near their homes. Gellido explained the Lubbock is home to different types of mosquitoes, some of which bite during the day and others which bite at night and at dusk. He encourages the public to be prepared this mosquito season during all hours of they day that they’re outside.
“Don’t get mosquito bites, especially with all this news coming out about Zika, it can cause microcephaly in newly born babies,” Gellido said. “Although we don’t have it here yet, no one knows when it will be in the area. We should be concerned but we will be more prepared than concerned when the time comes.”