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Residents in south Longview wary of rise in mosquitoes

By by Reese Gordon rgordon@news-journal.com
Aug. 29, 2013 at 11 p.m.


Wanda Owens said Thursday mosquitoes on Maple Street in south Longview are worse than anywhere else she has lived.

So, she wasn't surprised to learn more than 800 Culex mosquitoes were trapped earlier this week in her neighborhood.

Just 50 Culex mosquitoes are enough for the city to start fogging.

"They're (mosquitoes) some real big ones," she said. "I don't know where they're coming from but they're some large ones," Owens said.

Chances are the mosquitoes swarming around Owen's house aren't Culex mosquitoes - carriers of West Nile illness.

They are tiny and fly almost exclusively at dusk and dawn.

Mary Ann Miller, spokesperson for the Longview City Manager's office, said the high count brought swift action from the environmental health department.

"We are on our guard against mosquitoes," she said. "When we have mosquito amounts like we found Wednesday, we definitely want to be aggressive with treating those areas."

She blamed the extreme infestation of Culex mosquitoes on standing water found in one residential swimming pool in the area.

Miller said environmental health officials would be treating the pool with chemicals designed to eradicate the potential breeding ground and planned to spray the neighborhood intensively, especially areas with standing water.

Owens wants the city to spray the neighborhood at least twice a week, citing her front yard as a hotbed for "large" mosquitoes.

"I get eaten up by the mosquitoes," she said, wearing the proof on both arms. "I've lived in Diana and Pine Tree but the mosquitoes are worse here than anywhere else I've been."

Owens, having lived on Maple Street for about one year, said she always applies mosquito repellant before stepping outside onto her porch.

City officials placed yellow "door-knockers" on residences in the area providing tips on repelling mosquitoes and warnings regarding the dangers of standing water.

Jerry Fortner, 73, lives down the street from Owens and he said he hasn't seen the city spray for mosquitoes in the neighborhood in quite a while.

"They used to spray here on a regular basis," Fortner said.

Fortner said he hasn't really noticed a huge difference in the presence of mosquitoes, but he said the creek behind his home has been a source of standing water in the past due to leaks in sewer lines.

He said he wasn't personally concerned about the mosquitoes because he doesn't go outside early in the morning or late in the evening, when Culex mosquitoes are most active.

Despite the large number of Culex mosquitoes found this week, no confirmed cases of West Nile illness have been recorded in Gregg County this year. In 2012, there were 30 cases of West Nile illness in the county including one death from the mosquito-borne illness.

"All citizens are probably more careful based on last year and the experiences we had with the mosquitoes," Miller said, referring to the WNV cases. "We've all learned how to dress, when to be out, and hopefully that has had a positive impact. But this time of year, we all need to be careful."

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