Charleston Co. combating mosquitoes after heavy rain

CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - After last week's heavy rainfall, Charleston County Government's Mosquito Control Division is asking for help from the public combating the winged pests.

"Employees are working seven days a week ground spraying, and several aircraft are spraying throughout the County," said Donna Odom, Charleston County Mosquito Control Superintendent. "But we cannot stress enough the importance of citizens doing their part to help eliminate mosquito egg-laying sites around their homes in order to help reduce the number of mosquitoes in their neighborhoods."

Each year, Charleston County Mosquito Control treats over 50,000 acres by aircraft and 500,000 acres through ground spraying. The young mosquitoes, or larvae, cannot live and become adult mosquitoes without water.

"So the key is to get rid of the containers that hold water around homes, yards, schools and businesses. The public must help by flushing water out of birdbaths and pet dishes with a garden hose. Keep anything that has potential to hold water, such as toys, buckets, cans and bottles, turned over and emptied," Odom said.

"In fact, container-breeding mosquitoes generate up to 30% of the requests for service our Division receives each year," Odom said. "Of these mosquitoes, the Tiger mosquito is a significant pest and can carry the West Nile virus."

The Tiger mosquito is a domestic mosquito and is closely associated with humans. Artificial containers, so abundantly provided by modern industrial society, are the major breeding sites and are essential to the production and maintenance of large populations of the Tiger mosquito.

"It is very difficult for Mosquito Control staff to reduce the number of Tiger mosquitoes because they are only daytime biters and have a short flight distance of up to 1,000 feet from where they breed. Therefore, the most effective way to control this mosquito is elimination of the breeding source by the property owners," Odom said.

Mosquitoes also grow and live in standing water in other types of areas, including ditches and low spots in yards, fields and woods. Because this standing water can't always be eliminated, Charleston County Mosquito Control routinely checks these types of areas for mosquito breeding.

"If there are mosquito larvae present, Mosquito Control employees will put a material into the water that kills only the larvae and does no harm to any other organism," Odom said.

In addition, small fish that eat mosquito larvae can be put into the water. They are called mosquito fish, and are native to South Carolina.

"All of these treatments will reduce the number of young aquatic stage mosquitoes, but there will still be some adult mosquitoes flying around," Odom said. "For the adult mosquitoes, Charleston County Mosquito Control uses spray machines on trucks to spray at night. Charleston County Mosquito Control also uses aerial treatment as needed."

Working together, Charleston County Mosquito Control and the citizens of Charleston County can reduce the mosquito population so that residents can continue to enjoy outside activities and minimize the occurrence of mosquito-carried disease.

To request service or to get information on Charleston County Mosquito Control activities, call (843) 202-7880.

Here are some Charleston County-provided tips for residents on combatting mosquitoes:

  • Every three days, flush birdbaths, potted plant saucers and containers that hold water
  • Keep yard clean and cut
  • Remove items from yard that hold water and are not needed outside
  • Keep lawn and gardening equipment indoors
  • Fix leaky faucets
  • Keep gutters clean
  • Fill in tree holes with sand or concrete
  • Change pet water dishes regularly
  • Chlorinate pools and clean the pool and filters
  • Add fish to ponds