In early August, the West Nile Virus was confirmed to be present in mosquitoes located on the East End. A statement was released by the Suffolk Health Commissioner Dr. James Tomarken about the news, which was worrisome. “The confirmation of West Nile virus in a mosquito pool indicates that the virus is actively circulating within the mosquito population. While there is no cause for alarm, we urge residents to cooperate with us in our efforts to contain the spread of the virus, which can be debilitating to humans.”
West Nile is one of those diseases that can be psychologically daunting because it makes people feel like they are helpless from preventing it. After all, what is a person supposed to do? Not walk outside to avoid the occasional mosquito bite? Well, you can be sure that there is a lot you can do to prevent mosquitoes from breeding near your home, and I contacted one of the experts on the subject, Barbara Frerichs, the owner of Mosquito Squad in Sag Harbor, who makes her and her families living keeping mosquitoes at bay.
Me: Do you think that we should be concerned about West Nile?
Barbara: One of the things that really concerns me is that people tend to have a reaction to news instead in of being pro-active to prevent it. By the time West Nile was discovered out here, a lot of time passed by to make the discovery, which means that the virus has been present this year on the East End probably since the beginning of the season.
Me: Do you guys mostly use sprays to control mosquitoes?
Barbara: We have a barrier spray program that helps homeowners control the mosquito populations on their property. We have all different types of applications that can be tailored to each specific property. One of our sprays is certified to be used on organic farms so it is a very pure product. But our service is not just about spraying. We also survey properties for mosquito breeding grounds, such as a shallow area of water, stacks of wood, children’s toys that have been left out, planter containers that do not drain, even just over-watered lawns, all of these places are breeding grounds for mosquitoes. So on top of spraying one of the things that we do is educate the homeowner on how they can reduce mosquitoes on their property.
Me: Don’t we have municipalities controlling mosquitoes out here?
Barbara: One of the main reasons people should really take this on themselves is because municipalities are doing less and less spraying every year due to budget issues. So to protect your pets, family and friends it is really now on the homeowner and not on the municipalities to keep mosquitoes at bay.
Me: If you have kids, what do you recommend to a parent if they are outside?
Barbara: If children are playing outside in the evening they should be wearing lightweight long clothing and wear mosquito spray. Parents should also be proactive with keeping kids in areas where mosquito’s are being controlled.
Me: What else can people do?
Barbara: If you live in an area near small ponds or standing bodies of water, people should call Suffolk County Vector Control (631-852-4270) so that the ponds can be treated with larvacide.
Barbara Frerichs can be contacted at Mosquito Squad in Sag Harbor (631-725-0725).