With the frequent rainfall South Texas has experienced this summer, area mosquito activity has been on the rise throughout the Kingsville area.
While city crews are doing what they can to control the population, residents are urged take proactive measures to help mitigate mosquito activity by cutting tall grass and removing standing water around their homes, businesses and other property.
“The rainy season comes around, and before we know it, mosquitoes are all over the place,” Emilio Garcia, director of the City-County Health Department, said. “Their eggs can lay dormant for months and will hatch once they get into water.”
Garcia said city crews spray for mosquitoes using vehicles mounted with “London Foggers” during the evening hours several times in July, but windy conditions can affect their efficiency or prevent them from spraying altogether.
“Ideally, you want the winds to be less than 15 miles per hour,” he said. “Anything over that, and we’d just be wasting a lot of chemicals. We don’t want to do that.”
When spraying, Garcia said the city is divided into three zones — west, middle and east — with a crew working each simultaneously, from the south side of Kingsville to the north. He said it takes about four hours to spray the entire city.
Crews also add larvicides to ditches around the city in order to kill mosquitoes that are still in the larval stage.
Garcia said the city also sets traps on a monthly basis to collect mosquitoes that can be tested for various arbor viruses such as West Nile, Malaria and Zika.
As for what residents can do to help curb mosquito activity, Garcia said the best thing to do is remove any standing water on their property.
“Whether it’s in tires, buckets, anything that can hold water where mosquitoes can breed,” he said. “Even a bottle cap can hold enough water to breed hundreds, if not thousands, of them.”
Residents are also advised to regularly mow their lawns and control weed growth on their property, as tall grass can be a breeding ground for not just mosquitoes, but also roaches, snakes and rodents.
Maryann Trejo, a code enforcement officer with the City of Kingsville, said while they have not seen “an abnormal swing” in non-compliant properties this summer, she did caution that heavy rainfall will bring increased grass growth in the city.
“It’s not too much yet, but it’s important that people maintain their grass this time of year,” she said.
According the Kingsville Code of Ordinances, properties must be free from weeds or plant growth in excess of 12 inches.
“It’s all about health and safety,” Trejo said. “Because what’s happening on your property affects your neighbors as well.”
Garcia also recommended residents protect themselves by repairing rips and tears on window and door screens, as well as using mosquito spray with DEET and wearing long-sleeve shirts if they are planning to work outside.
“Especially at dawn or dusk,” he said. “We will do our part as much as we can, but you need to protect yourself.”
Anthony Ruiz can be contacted at email@example.com or (361) 221-0251.