Aerial spraying for mosquitoes OK’d when Zika present

After discussing recent advances in aerial spraying for mosquitoes, the Satellite Beach City Council recently approved the limited use of the once-controversial method – only in cases where the Zika virus has been detected in the area.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires written approval from the governing body where operations are conducted. Beginning this year this authorization letter, which was requested by Brevard County Mosquito Control, will cover a two-year time period. So far, all but Melbourne Village have signed the agreement.

Brevard County’s history of aerial spraying goes back to the 1940s, and the program has continued to thrive ever since, said Brevard County Mosquito Control director Joe Faella.

An alternative to spraying starting in the late 1950s. Mosquito impoundments (ponds) were constructed to battle aggressive salt marsh mosquitoes. Since salt marsh mosquitoes will only lay eggs in the sediment or mud – not in the water – mosquito impoundments are intentionally flooded by the county from the spring through the fall to prevent billions of mosquito eggs from being laid each year. A total of 28,000 acres (44 square miles) of these impoundments reduces our mosquito populations by at least 50 percent, he said.

For the next stage in the life cycle, mosquito control utilizes U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-approved larvicides to reduce the immature mosquitoes in their aquatic habitats before they would potentially emerge as flying, biting adults. When adult mosquitoes will find a way to emerge into the air, mosquito control must consider the last resort: adulticide. As with the larvicides, only EPA-registered and -approved adulticides are used, Faella said.

In 2016, when Florida first experienced Zika Virus outbreaks, Brevard County had 17 confirmed travel cases of Zika (acquired outside of Florida) but no other cases have been reported to date.

Brevard County has historically confirmed the presence of diseases like West Nile, Saint Louis and Eastern Equine Encephalitis.

Overall, Florida experienced an unusually active year of such mosquito-borne diseases in 2018, including numerous horse cases and one human case in neighboring counties.

Fortunately, Brevard County had no such cases in 2018.

“We believe our science-based integrated management efforts, including aerial spraying, may have contributed to this success,’’ he said.

Brevard County Mosquito Control will continue monitoring for mosquitoes and diseases throughout Brevard County, and conducting environmentally safe practices in an effort to reduce and maintain mosquito populations at safe and tolerable levels, he said.

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