Charleston Co. addresses concerns over mosquito spraying procedures

VIDEO: Charleston Co. addresses concerns over mosquito spraying procedures

CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - Charleston County is dealing with a flood of concerns regarding its mosquito spraying procedures.

Charleston County has sprayed for mosquitoes for several years on the ground and in the air.

Now a petition created by concerned citizens is floating around to stop the spraying all together following a deadly incident in Dorchester County where thousands of bees were killed.

"The concern is understandable," said Ed Harne, a lab technician with the Charleston County Mosquito Control Division.

Harne said crews use EPA certified pesticides when spraying.

They use a pesticide, commonly known as Trumpet, when they spray for adult mosquitoes in the County.

"We use it at low rates," he said. "There's no unreasonable risk and we can get the kill that we need to without affecting anything else."

Ground spray trucks use 0.2 ounces per acre of the unmixed pesticide for adult mosquitoes. The application rate per air, is one ounce per acre (unmixed), for adult mosquitoes. That's a little less than a full shot glass.

To date, the County has only aerially sprayed for adult mosquitoes at most four times this year. A majority of the spraying has been done in unpopulated areas of the County like Awendaw.

Nadel is an ingredient in Trumpet used to kill adult mosquitoes. The EPA states when applied according to label instructions, naled can be used for public health mosquito programs without posing risks to people.

The ingredient, however, is what's believed to be the cause of the deaths of the bees.

"If it's killing off things that are important for the environment, bees have been proven to be super important for our environment," said Ashley Slade, of West Ashley. "It's just something we need to look into and be aware that we can't be damaging things that are important."

Harne said they follow the labeled instructions on how to use the pesticide.

From Wednesday morning through Monday night (6 a.m. – 9 p.m.), crews will be aerially spraying mosquito larvae in unpopulated areas of the county. This means they'll be killing the mosquitoes in their early stages before they hatch.

When it comes to mosquito larvae spraying, a different pesticide is used.

The County uses a product made from naturally occurring bacteria to kill the larvae. Larviciding is done in unpopulated areas during different times from adult mosquito spraying.

Spraying for adults is normally done during hours near dusk.

"We prefer the evening because kids are in school, most people are inside as well," Harne said.

The County also looks at weather patterns to figure out when conditions are right for aerial spraying.

Additionally, crews decide where to spray for mosquitoes based on surveillance equipment, and reports from the public about mosquito issues.

"It's going to be targeted areas," Harne said. "Sometimes not more than a few thousand acres that we know the mosquitoes are bad enough. If we don't take care of them those mosquitoes are going to be disrupting commerce, business, tourism, and generally make it miserable for people to go outside."

"I really do think it's necessary," said Susan Causey, of West Ashley. "Some of them are carrying so many diseases now and it just seems like it's important and we need to take into consideration now."

The County sends out public notifications every time they are scheduled to spray for mosquitoes or the larvae.

Information can be found on the County's website where a schedule is updated and posted daily.

Also, the office works with local beekeepers to notify them of upcoming spraying. The County currently has 90 bee keepers in its system. They are separated by area and are notified if their area is being treated.

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