Recent Rains Renew Mosquito Battle in New Jersey
Although an unusually dry May raised drought concerns, it also kept the mosquito population at bay. Recent rains may have been a game-changer, and now the battle against the bug is on in New Jersey.
Rain brings standing water, where mosquitoes lay eggs. And while a lot of the recent heavy rain is no longer pooling on streets and other surfaces, county mosquito control commissions are still on the lookout for pools and puddles where mosquitoes get their start. Eric Williges, an administrator for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's Mosquito Control Coordination said officials are trying to determine how best to prevent mosquitoes from breeding in certain areas.
"Site-specific surveillance is really important so that we know when to spray and when to treat appropriately. Overall, it is still too early to tell how bad the mosquito season's gonna be over the course of the summer," he said.
According to Williges, the NJDEP has done a lot of aerial sprays to control larval mosquitoes across the state.
"We are going to continue that proactive approach throughout the summer," Williges said.
He says spraying and treating has begun in certain places this spring along some of the coastal counties, where there are salt marsh areas that are affected by both tide and the rainfall. Areas such as the Passaic River flood plain, where some of the river floods over and there are thousands of acres of water at a time, are also being treated. But Williges says there are also some smaller areas in the inland counties that are affected by large rainfalls.
Williges says county control agencies are the real, "boots on the ground" in beating back the mosquito threat.
"The DEP functions more as a kind of go-between between the counties to try to help them out as much as we can," he said.
New Jersey's mosquito problem also becomes a health problem later in the summer, when West Nile virus emerges. That usually becomes a concern sometime between July and August.
"We would really like to emphasize that homeowners can really be our first line of defense against mosquitoes," he said.
Williges urges people who have concerns about the mosquito population in their area to contact the DEP or local county mosquito agencies. he also advises people to remove items from around the outside of their homes that could collect standing water and act as a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
More than 60 species of mosquitoes have been found in the Garden State, and 3,000 throughout the world.