Reporting Jason Allen
HURST (CBSDFW.COM) - Before the first fireworks took to the sky on the Fourth of July, the City of Hurst tried to knock something else out of the air. The city sprayed Community Park to kill mosquitos… twice. In their assessment, it worked. “We had virtually no complaints of mosquitos,” said spokesperson Ashleigh Whiteman, “and it’s a big open field and we had recent rains the week before that.”
Hurst has sprayed seven times this year, after five positive mosquito pool tests for the West Nile virus.
Hurst’s municipal neighbor to the south, Arlington, has had two of Tarrant County’s 18 human cases this year. Arlington, however, has not sprayed for mosquitos even once. Instead, crews try to attack breeding pools of standing water to prevent the population from growing. “If they find larvae, they drop larvicide in there,” said spokesperson Rebecca Rodriguez. “That’s very effective for actually getting rid of mosquitos before they become a problem.”
The cities are on either side of a bug battle where, even after a decade of fighting, there is no consensus on the best way to attack.
Fort Worth, Bedford and Grapevine have all declined to spray, calling it ineffective, costly and a health risk to humans and animals. Denton, Dallas and Richardson all sprayed on Monday night. In Denton, the city said, while the effectiveness is difficult to measure, they believe that there is some effect.
The confusion is even reflected in a document that some cities refer to as both the reason for and against spraying. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines for controlling West Nile says that, at the stage North Texas is in, governments should actually consider a “coordinated widespread aerial adulticide application” of spray. Another section of the document, though, says that there is “no simple formula for determining how large an area to treat.”
The cost is not excessive, as government costs go. Spray treatments run between $300 and $600 per outing, depending on the size of the area being covered.
Plano-area entomologist Martie Keane, who runs The Pest Shop, said that the disagreement is even reflected on the shelves at the local home stores. You can buy larvaecide right next to foggers and electric zappers.
Arguments aside, most governments agree that prevention begins with the education of residents.
“We live in Texas,” said Whiteman. “We’re going to have mosquitos. We think that spraying helps to minimize those mosquitos.”
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