Correction: Due to a photographer's error, the names of two workers were misidentified in a caption on the front page of Saturday's editions. Jerry DeRamus is driving the vehicle while Bobby Kitchens sprays chemicals to control the mosquito population at University Hospital.
Plentiful rainfall in recent weeks boosted populations of Augusta’s notorious summer nuisance – the mosquito.
Richmond County Mosquito Control received its first influx of reports from residents with mosquito problems the first week of June, after rain showers spread across the area the week before. Operations manager Fred Koehle expects more reports this week after heavy downpours Sunday and Monday.
According to meteorologist Tony Petrolito of the National Weather Service in West Columbia, S.C., 5.69 inches of rain have been recorded at Daniel Field this month. Augusta Regional Airport has received 2.48 inches. The most significant amounts were recorded June 10.
“We had a tremendous amount of complaints last week,” Koehle said. “The hatching comes seven to 10 days after the rain.”
As of Monday, the department had received 37 percent more complaints than
at the same time in 2011, Koehle said.
“It’s bad enough already, and it’s going to get worse,” he said.
In response to the calls, its three technicians make three to five property inspections each night starting at dusk.
The mosquito control department suspended widespread spraying to comply with a new U.S. Environmental Protection Division mandate. The rule went into effect Jan. 1 to protect water from pesticides, but the county began changes last summer.
Now, the technicians perform a “live landing count” to determine whether treatment is needed. Only five mosquitoes need to land on arms, legs and faces to create a problem. They can also set up traps to perform counts in a 22-hour period.
The most problematic areas for mosquito breeding are uncovered ditches where storm drains are not in place, he said. Blythe, Hephzibah and south Augusta farm fields with truck and tractor ruts that collect water also pose problems.
Mosquito control performs barrier spraying on vegetation to try to control the adult population, especially in the downtown corridor, Koehle said. The spray sticks to the feet of mosquitoes when they land on a leaf, killing them.