WJTV News Channel 12 - Cumberland County finds new way to fight mosquitoes

Cumberland County finds new way to fight mosquitoes

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The larvicide "dunks" contain bacillus thuringiensis, which kills mosquito larvae. The larvicide "dunks" contain bacillus thuringiensis, which kills mosquito larvae.

This summer the Cumberland County Health Department is using a mosquito control that is reportedly cheaper and more effective than spraying insecticides.

The department is giving away donut-shaped tablets that dissolve in water and kill mosquito larvae. The tablets, called mosquito "dunks," contain protein and Bacillus thuringiensis. Each dunk lasts 30 days and covers approximately 100 square feet of water. The tablets can be broken apart and used in smaller areas also.

"It can be used in lakes, fish ponds, bird baths, flower pots, aquatic gardens, flood-control basins, unused swimming pools and other areas where standing water creates a breeding ground for mosquitoes," read a statement from Daniel Ortiz.

Ortiz is Environmental Health Supervisor for the county. He said the larvicide dunks are an important way to cut down on the mosquito population.

"Not only are they pesky - they bite you - they are disease-carrying vectors," Ortiz said. "You have West Nile Virus, encephalitis, equina encephalitis, and all these are diseases that mosquitoes carry."

Cumberland County stopped spraying to kill mosquitoes after 2009. Budget cuts were part of the reason. Ortiz said it was also getting too expensive to buy the insecticide and pay for the equipment and labor to spray it. It was no longer a good return on investment he said.

"It's hit or miss with the spraying because unless a mosquito flies through the spray, it's not going to affect them... And it's short term," Ortiz explained. "The next day, two days later, you're going to have the new generation of mosquitos coming up to replace them."

The dunks are a more long-term solution. They are available at county health department on Ramsey Street. Each person who goes to pick up a dunk gets four dunks.

The program is funded in part by the North Carolina Division of Health and Human Services' State Aid for Mosquito Control. Ortiz said many people have already begun to use the dunks, and he will likely order more by the end of summer. The cost for those dunks would come from his health department budget.

Brandon Herring

Brandon is a North Carolina native and UNC alum who lives in Fayetteville, and covers Cumberland County and the Sandhills. Returning to North Carolina to work as a journalist is a dream come true for Brandon. More>>

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