Harvey’s rain may have left Houston behind, but there’s another storm headed our way. It’s a cloud of mosquitoes, which breed in standing water and soon will be hatching by the millions.
“It’s going to be horrible in two or three weeks,” said Cory Barcomb, operations manager for Mosquito Squad, a Houston mosquito control service. He’s bracing for the onslaught, bringing in heavy-duty insecticide sprayers from Austin that can cover a whole neighborhood in a couple of hours.
You know all that standing water we have right now? Mosquitoes are laying eggs in it right now – as many as 500 eggs at a time. In a week or two, all those eggs will start to hatch. And before long, we’ll see a mosquito boom that will have us swatting and scratching for weeks.
“There’s no way around them,” said Dr. Mustapha Debboun, director of Harris County Public Health’s mosquito and vector control division. “Once they find water, they’re going to lay eggs.”
Our local mosquitoes could be carrying five different viruses, according to Debboun: West Nile, St. Louis encephalitis, dengue, chikungunya and Zika.
That’s why Harris County Public Health will be studying the mosquito population to figure out where they’re the most concentrated, then strategically spraying insecticide to get rid of them.
Mosquito Control staffers will head out across Harris County soon after this new round of mosquitoes has hatched, Debboun said. They’ll do what’s called a “landing count,” which involves a brave Mosquito Control technician standing still for one minute and counting the number of mosquitoes that land on him. If it’s five to 10, there’s not a problem. If it’s 100 or more, Debboun said, “that’s a situation.”
Oh my God, there is no amount of money you could pay me to do that job. Those people are damn heroes. There will be insecticide sprayed from trucks and possibly planes to combat the buzzing menace, and we didn’t all scratch ourselves to death following other large flood events, so maybe we’ll survive this time, too. Cover yourself in DEET and empty any standing water you have on your property in the meantime. God help us all.