Mosquito increase in Beaufort County; expert: historic rains the cause
Beaufort County Mosquito Control director Gregg Hunt said he expected a rise in the number of calls to his department in two weeks from the heavy rain and high tides that hit the county Oct. 3 and 4.
Hunt said St. Helena Island and the barrier islands beyond it will most likely be the most affected by stinging hordes of insects. Those areas were the most affected by flooding in the county this month and have the most standing water, he said.
Saltwater species of mosquitoes thrive on high tides, and populations of freshwater mosquitoes grow when heavy rains leave standing water.
Mosquito Control has focused aerial spraying this week over the islands. Spray trucks were sent out Wednesday night into Thursday morning and will be sent out Thursday night into Friday morning, Hunt said.
Mosquito Control may also conduct aerial training, surveillance, or spray missions between Oct. 19 and 23, according to a news release. It uses low-flying aircraft, and spraying is dependent on the weather, the release said.
Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island will conduct aerial spraying from Oct. 20 to 22, according to a base news release. The spraying will begin either two hours before sunset or an hour after sundown on those days. The insecticides used aren't a threat to people, animals or plants in the area, but the release urged beekeepers within a five-mile radius of the base to keep their hives covered.
Although the rain may cause a temporary spike in local mosquito populations, 2015 has still been a mild year for the insects. Hunt said each of the last three years have been typical mosquito seasons, following a season in 2012 when the department began spraying for mosquitoes in early spring, far sooner than normal. So far, no local cases of West Nile virus or Eastern equine encephalitis have been recorded locally in 2015, Hunt said.
Hunt said calls with mosquito complaints have already risen since the storms this month. He said residents should call his department at 843-255-5800 to report complaints about mosquitoes.
Follow reporter Matt McNab at twitter.com/IPBG_Matt.