LUMBERTON — Hurricane Florence exited Robeson County 10 days ago, but it still has some bite.
The record rainfall has created pools of water that are perfect breeding grounds for mosquitoes, and local reports are that small children and pets have been carried away by some of the bigger ones. OK, that’s an exaggeration, but there are a lot of mosquitoes, and they are big and aggressive.
Bill Smith, county Health Department director, calls them “nuisance” mosquitoes, and not generally a threat to a person’s health, such as mosquitoes that carry bacteria that can make people sick and even kill them.
Smith said the county does not have a spray program it is so large and rural that spraying operations are generally ineffective and costly. State Sen. Danny Britt said on Facebook that he and Rep. Brenden Jones are working to get the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide money to Robeson County, which has been declared a disaster area because of Florence, that can be used to fund spraying operations.
The city of Lumberton is actively spraying to combat the mosquito infestation, City Manager Wayne Horne said. Two trucks are being used to essentially spray all day every day, and that will continue as long as it is needed.
However, the best defense against mosquitoes can be self-defense.
According to the Health Department, to prevent mosquitoes from breeding:
— Remove containers that can hold water, especially old tires.
— Keep gutters clean and in good repair.
— Repair leaky outdoor faucets and change the water in bird baths and pet bowls at least twice a week.
— Use screened windows and doors and make sure screens fit tightly and are not torn.
— Keep tight-fitting screens or lids on rain barrels.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, to avoid being bitten:
— Use an EPA-registered insect repellent with one of the following active ingredients: DEET; Picaridin; IR3535; Oil of lemon eucalyptus; Para-menthane-diol; or 2-undecanone.
— Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
— If you are not able to protect yourself from mosquitoes inside your home or hotel, sleep under a mosquito bed net.
Reach Donnie Douglas at 910-416-5649 or [email protected]