ISSUE: The City’s Mosquito Control Measures

FACT: The City of Virginia Beach takes preventative measures year-round to reduce the mosquito population.
mosquito larvaeThe Mosquito Control Bureau, a division of the Department of Public Works, is devoted to keeping the biting pests at bay. Altogether, 34 employees work in tandem to ensure mosquito-borne diseases don’t become a threat to our residents, and the bugs don’t become a nuisance through testing, spraying, and preventative measures.

During mosquito season, a lab technician, an assistant and three interns test mosquitos collected from 70 traps spread throughout the city. They’re checking for any diseases the mosquitos may be carrying and identifying where the population is concentrated. If testing reveals any disease that poses a danger to humans or a boom in the mosquito population, spray trucks are deployed to those specific locations to reduce their numbers. 

However, spraying isn’t the preferred method of population control since it only eliminates mosquitos that are already flying.  It doesn’t have much impact on ones who haven’t yet hatched or can fly in from somewhere outside the sprayed area. The Bureau prefers to use proactive measures by eliminating breeding areas. And that’s where residents can lend a helping hand.

Standing water is the preferred breeding ground for many mosquitos. In fact, they only need a half-inch deep puddle to facilitate breeding and egg hatching. Some suggested methods to reduce or remove standing water include:

  • Eliminate accumulating puddles wherever possible
  • Change out the water in a bird bath every few days
  • Clear clogged gutters
  • Dump the water out of any small pools or containers when finished
  • Turn over any objects that can collect water before a rainstorm

If standing water can’t be entirely eliminated, it can be treated with pesticides which will kill the mosquito larvae before the take flight and have an opportunity to breed elsewhere.

The Mosquito Control Bureau will also make house calls, once per year, to Virginia Beach residents. Residents can request backyard treatment by calling 385-1470 and scheduling an appointment. When the technician comes by to treat a yard, they’ll also consult with the homeowner and offer suggestions on how they can reduce or eliminate breeding areas on their property. If the areas can’t be removed, they’ll offer advice on how to limit larval growth in those water sources.

Not all residents can tolerate the spraying methods the Bureau uses for medical reasons such as asthma, or agricultural ones such as bee keeping. When requested, they can “red tag” a property by placing a piece of reflective red tape on it, similar to the material in a stop sign, that tells a driver to turn off the spray nozzles. The driver will keep the spray off until they’re a few houses away from the tagged property. To request a red tag, please call the Mosquito Control Bureau at 385-1470.

The spraying schedule is updated by 3 p.m. and can be obtained over the phone by calling 385-1590. Please be aware that wind and weather conditions could cause it to change.

For more information about the Mosquito Control Bureau, please visit their website.

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