Concerns prompt city to spray for mosquitoes

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 7, 2002

Responding to complaints from residents and the growing threat of West Nile virus, the City of Albert Lea will unleash fogging trucks tonight for the second straight year of mosquito spraying, the city announced Tuesday.

With heavy rainfall over the last few weeks, the mosquito population has grown and calls to city hall have been increasing in frequency, said City Manager Paul Sparks.

&uot;These last two big rains have brought out a pretty big crop, and we’re getting a lot of complaints,&uot; Sparks said.

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Nearly three inches of rain that fell Monday morning will likely bring another large crop of mosquitoes in around a week. &uot;They’re going to be awful,&uot; Sparks said.

The current mosquito population was probably born out of the rain on July 21, he said. Damp conditions and standing water are perfect conditions for mosquitoes to breed.

The city will pay a contractor out of Blue Earth $1 per city resident to conduct four sprayings &045; one per week for the next four weeks. That amounts to $18,357. Fogging trucks will cover the entire city during each application.

The chemical used, Anvil, is considered safe for people, pets, and just about everything except mosquitoes, but those with pesticide allergies may want to close their windows overnight tonight, Sparks said.

&uot;It isn’t dangerous, but some people are worried about it,&uot; Sparks said.

The effect on mosquitoes probably won’t be immediately noticeable.

&uot;It takes a couple of applications but you start to see the numbers going down,&uot; Sparks said.

Last year, after not spraying for nearly a decade, the city started a mosquito control program again after dozens of complaints from residents about swarms of the blood-sucking insects. The city paid $21,000 for four sprayings last


This year, complaints have been building lately, thanks to wet weather after a slow start to the mosquito season.

&uot;I have to use like a yard spray just to get out of the back door,&uot; said Annmarie Harschbarger of Albert Lea, who said she’s called the city to complain.

The threat of West Nile virus, a mosquito-borne illness that infects birds, horses and potentially humans, arrived in Minnesota for the first time in late July, providing another reason for more mosquito control, Sparks said. The virus, which is rare in humans but can cause deadly swelling of the brain, has killed several people in Louisiana in the last week.