Increased mosquito population prompts widespread spraying in OC

- Orange County officials will conduct spraying operations on Wednesday in several locations to knock out an increased population of mosquitoes in wetland areas.

The mosquito larvicide will be sprayed from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. over Peters Canyon Reservoir, Villa Park Dam, Santiago Pit North, Santiago Pit South and the Loma Pond.

Officials with the Orange County Mosquito and Vector Control District stressed that the product is not harmful to people, pets, plants or wildlife. "It's bacteria naturally occurring that is found in soil," said Mary-Joy Coburn of the OCMVCD. "It is important to note that the spraying is not over residential areas -- these are wetlands."

The air drops are necessary because "it's hard to get to these areas because they're covered by trees and bushes, so you can't go in with trucks and it's hard to even get a boat in there," Coburn said.

The drought had made the air drops unnecessary in recent years, she said. But with the heavy rainfall this winter, "we've noticed an increase in mosquito abundance."

Coburn noted that "mosquitoes in wetlands can fly 10 to 25 miles so it's imperative (to spray) as we start to see them, especially because they could start biting birds with West Nile Virus."

A mosquito collection in March from the areas to be sprayed showed an average of 52 per trap each night, Coburn said. That's much higher than the five-year average of 21 per trap nightly, she said.

This past weekend, the district held an event in Garden Grove to collect old tires, which often pool rainwater that provides a fertile breeding ground for mosquitoes.

About three dozen tires were turned in by Garden Grove residents, Coburn said.

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