Today (Monday), Johnston County Commissioners agreed to begin spraying for mosquitoes as soon as possible.
The pesky mosquitoes have been a big problem, in numbers and size, since Hurricane Florence flooded many areas of the county.
Johnston County will receive $440,636 from the State of North Carolina for mosquito control efforts. No reimbursement is required. But the cost is expected to be much higher.
After the state money is spent, Johnston County can seek to be reimbursed for up to 75% of the additional cost of spraying. The total price of control efforts was not immediately known but could easily approach $1 million.
Commissioners heard from Johnston County Health Director Dr. Marilyn Pearson, Cooperative Extension Director Bryant Spivey and Environmental Health Director Todd Ramsey about the issue.
Officials said all parts of the county have seen an increase in blood-sucking mosquitoes known as “gallinippers” which can grow 3 to 6 times larger than regular mosquitoes. The problem seems more severe in the southern and eastern sections of the county that saw the most flooding.
Ramsey said the County can either spray chemicals by air or by ground. Officials decided to begin spraying by ground and if necessary move to aerial application.
Officials said they must collect mosquito samples before spraying can begin. Ramsey said sampling could be completed in 48 to 72 hours and spraying started soon thereafter.
Two large companies that specialize in mosquito control are already in eastern NC helping coastal counties with pest control. They should be available within a matter of days to begin spraying in Johnston County.
Commissioners said the mosquito problem is a serious health threat. Spraying will take place at night to minimize any harm to bees.
The towns of Benson, Clayton and Smithfield have already been spraying for mosquitoes. County officials will check with those towns to see if their control efforts are adequate or if they wish for the county to also spray in their municipalities. Other towns like Four Oaks and Princeton that don’t have mosquito control programs will also be notified to see if they wish for the County to spray in their jurisdictions.
Even after the spraying application is completed, officials caution there will still be mosquitoes flying around. The only real relief will come after the first frost.