The Suffolk County Department of Public Works plans to spray pesticide in several communities tonight, weather permitting, as part of ongoing efforts to control the mosquito population.
Ground spraying will take place in all streets from 6 to 10 p.m. in Davis Park, Ocean Bay Park and Point O’Woods on Fire Island, as well as Cedar Beach Golf Course in Babylon. Ground spraying on all streets in Oak Beach, except for buffer areas adjacent to wetlands, will occur from 7:30 to 11:30 p.m.
Various salt marshes in the Brookhaven, Southampton, Riverhead, Southold and Smithtown towns will be sprayed by helicopter, to control mosquito larvae, from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m.
“The mosquito population went up significantly last week,” said Dominick Ninivaggi, superintendent of the county’s Department of Public Works’ Vector Control Division, which administers the sprays. “We saw the results of that heavy rain in the first two weeks of June,” he said Monday.
The rain flooded several areas where mosquito eggs had been waiting to hatch, prompting more hatching because mosquitoes need water to breathe, he said.
Ninivaggi said it is important to control mosquito populations because the insects can transmit diseases such as West Nile virus and, occasionally, Eastern equine encephalitis — a rarer, but more serious disease that kills 30 percent to 50 percent of those who contract it, he said.
Chances of experiencing medical problems due to pesticide applications are low, health officials said. For ground sprayings, officials advise residents to remain inside — closing windows, doors and vents — when spraying takes place, and for about 30 minutes after spraying. Residents who come in direct contact with pesticide spray should immediately rinse their eyes with water, and wash exposed skin and clothes separately from other laundry.
No precautions are recommended for aerial sprayings, because the helicopter will fly at a very low altitude and take other precautions, officials said.
Suffolk County is also seeing an increase in Asian tiger mosquitoes, which are small, dark-colored with white markings, that fly low and tend to bite during the day, said Ninivaggi.
“They can appear just about anywhere in the county and the household, so it’s hard to find a specific area where we can control them,” he said. “We do need people’s help on that.”
Residents should look out for any standing water around their household, in paper cups, tires or depressions in tarps to combat Asian tiger mosquitoes, Ninivaggi said.
For further information, contact the Suffolk County Division of Vector Control at 631-852-4270 or the spraying information hotline at 631-852-4939.