By Ruben Lowman
Spraying for mosquitoes will begin this week in the unincorporated areas of Horry County and will continue through the summer.
Weather permitting, from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. the county’s stormwater department will be out in trucks spraying to control the population of mosquitoes, a classic staple of the hot, humid Southern summer days and nights. Additionally, fogging trucks will be running between 4 am. and 6:30 a.m., with a focus on the county’s athletic fields, parks and boat landings, as the insects tend to proliferate in many of these areas and there is a high volume of human activity at these locations in the summer months.
“We know where the hotspots are as far as issues we’ve had in the past and that’s where we go,” said James Brock, Horry County Mosquito Program Manager.
Brock said they run six trucks all over Horry, and they have a good idea at this point where the major problem areas are, and they make sure to highlight them with spraying. As the county has grown in population, particularly in subdivisions and neighborhoods, Brock said that has meant they go into those areas more frequently and make assessments about the local mosquito population and then begin spraying if necessary.
“We’re treating everything we can treat. I have guys out everyday, we go into subdivisions and assess them and look for areas that reach the threshold we need to begin spraying.”
The stormwater department operates the mosquito control program and offers regular service to residents all over the county. Brock said they will begin making assessments about areas in Little River and Longs beginning this week.
“We will be going into subdivisions in the Little River and Longs area beginning this Wednesday to assess the threshold levels,” Brock said. “Wherever that threshold is met is where we’re going to spray.”
In addition to the problems areas the department is already familiar with, Brock said anyone in the unincorporated areas can request mosquito spraying by calling the county’s road and drainage hotline at 843-381-8000 or by using the free HCConnect App on their smartphone. Brock said you can simply go to HCConnect and put in a service request and they will begin spraying around the area.
“Wherever the service request is is where we’re going to go,” Brock said.
The chemicals used for mosquito control spraying are approved by the EPA and pose minimal risk to humans or animals. Individuals with asthma or other respiratory illness may wish to stay indoors and close windows and doors during spraying. In addition, homegrown fruits and vegetables should be washed, scrubbed, and/or peeled before eating.
The county has said that in order to keep the honeybee population safe, beekeepers should contact the stormwater department to identify the location of their colonies or fill out a no-spray zone form on their website. Additionally, horse owners are reminded to consult with their veterinarian about getting their horses properly immunized against Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), which is carried by mosquitoes and can be transmitted to humans.
Brock said there are a few things residents and visitors can do to help control the proportion of mosquitoes as we move into the summer season and they begin to proliferate more.
“Residents can help us out by policing their yards, wear light-colored clothing, using some kind of bug repellent and just being mindful and aware that mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn,” Brock said.
Spraying by truck will begin this week and Brock said aerial spraying will begin in May.