Dougherty battling mosquitoes

Photo by Barry Levine

Photo by Barry Levine

ALBANY -- The drought has kept the mosquitoes down, but the war goes on.

In the battle against mosquitoes, Donnell Mathis, environmental control manager of Dougherty County Public Works, knows his enemy and its environs.

"We use chemicals that kill the mosquito in different stages of its development," Mathis told the Exchange Club of Albany Friday. "Mosquitoes can hatch in an area as small as a bottle cap."

Despite the drought, mosquitoes find places to hatch. A rain shower can leave enough water in discarded tires to hatch hundreds of the insects.

"Tires actually get warm like an incubator," Mathis said. "In that environment mosquitoes can hatch twice as fast."

Mathis' crews work with code enforcement to remove piles of tires, junk and debris where mosquitoes could spawn. However, there are wooded acres in the county that continue to have wet spots where the bugs can breed.

"We go in those areas and set traps and see what we have to do," Mathis said. "Sometimes those areas have snakes and gators, but we go in after the mosquitos."

The crews fog areas with mosquito spray. They are also on the lookout for mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus.

According to the Center for Disease Control website cdc.gov, 80 percent of people infected with the disease show no symptoms. However, people can develop a severe illness.

The website continues: The easiest and best way to avoid West Nile virus is to prevent mosquito bites.

When you are outdoors, use insect repellent containing an EPA-registered active ingredient. Follow the directions on the package.

Many mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn. Be sure to use insect repellent and wear long sleeves and pants at these times or consider staying indoors during these hours.

Make sure you have good screens on your windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out.

Get rid of mosquito breeding sites by emptying standing water from flower pots, buckets and barrels. Change the water in pet dishes and replace the water in bird baths weekly. Drill holes in tire swings so water drains out. Keep children's wading pools empty and on their sides when they aren't being used.

Mathis recommended all of the above and said that the active ingredient in repellent is DEET. Abandoned pools can be mosquito proofed with a gallon of liquid bleach.

Mathis suggested in addition to the above was for residents to take a survey of the trees around their property. Holes in trees can contain water, and that water attracts egg-laying mosquitoes.

"All you have to do is put sand in the hole," Mathis said. "That will keep the water and the mosquitoes out."

In Exchangite business, the members applauded when told the national Exchange Club convention handed out the first award to the local organization at the event this week in Detroit. The Exchange Club of Albany had donated the most money of all the clubs, more than $10,000, to the club's foundation to fight child abuse.