The Buzz About Mosquito Control

Sundae Horn

The MC Board will meet Monday, October 30th at 6pm at the Fire Hall.

"The Mosquito Control Board is more interesting than most people thought," said George Chamberlin at the October 11th Civic Affairs Committee meeting. 

Previous reporting about the civic meeting focused on occupancy taxes, old and new, and how the new and old boards will spend it (read more here), but there was way more information and we're finally writing about some more of it. Look for more updates about NPS, Ocracoke Foundation, the Fire Department, and Tideland.

Yes, George, mosquito control IS interesting, and often overlooked, even by the Current. (I usually go to the meetings, but I don't always write about them...)

The Mosquito Control Board is chaired by Justin LeBlanc, who gave a presentation at the Civic Affairs meeting. The MCB meets quarterly, and their meetings, as with all county meetings, are open to the public. The next one is on Monday, October 30th at 6pm at the Fire Hall.

Ocracoke property owners pay a mosquito control tax, which brings in about 100K a year for mitigation of mosquitos. Justin explained that because the board has a reserve of "a couple hundred thousand" they've decided to use some of the money to address drainage issues around the village. So far, they've completed three projects: the area formerly known as Blackbeard's Puddle (now high and dry), culverts in the North Pond/Pamlico Shores area, and the Fig Tree Lane/Back Road puddle. "These projects are subject to surplus funds," Justin said. "We'll take care of a puddle, then drainage, then a puddle." As anyone who's walked around the village after a downpour can attest, the OCB has a daunting to-do list. 

These drainage projects address the standing water after storms and big rains, but nothing stops the tide. "If the tide's up, the water will come up," Justin said. The culvert that diverts the puddle at Fig Tree Lane/Back Road didn't stop the saltwater from seeping up during Hurricane Maria, but after a normal rainshower, it's amazing how quickly the puddle disperses. 

The Buzz About Mosquito Control

Next, the MCB plans to improve drainage in the lighthouse area by repairing and replacing culverts. It's out to bid, but it's a big project and could be pieced to multiple contractors.*

The MCB also cleans and maintains the mosquito control ditches around the island, when they can. No entity owns all the drainage ditches and they're not a part of one system; they are, as Justin explained, "an ad hoc remnant from the Navy" and owned by individual property owners. Some people have filled in their ditches (who doesn't want more land?), and while they should've worked with CAMA, and had the MCB put in a culvert to maintain the water flow, well, that's what would happen in a perfect world. What we have is hit or miss. 

"Beaver has to get permission from property owners to clean the ditches," Justin said. "We have to get permission for all of our projects." 

Beaver Tillett is the MCB's only employee, and he drives the mosquito truck, maintains the ditches, and puts out larvicide in standing water. He also sacrifices his own blood to determine when to spray. 

"We can't afford a formal count mechanism," Justin said. "So Beaver holds his arm out and counts with a stop watch."

The MCB is careful not to overspray – they don't want the mosquitoes to develop immunity. Everything they buy is EPA-approved, and they are courteous (so far) about not spraying yards if the homeowners request to be skipped. 

"About ten or twelve people ask not to be sprayed, and that's fine," Justin said. "But if we get too many, it undermines the public health reason for spraying. We have mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus, we have the Zika species here, and malaria is coming back to the U.S. because of global warming. The law is on the side of spraying on public roads."

Ask for these!
Ask for these!

The MCB will also provide free "dunks" for homeowners. You can place them in water in your yard and kill the baby bloodsuckers when they hatch. PSA: please "Tip 'n' Toss"! All those shells you collect and put in your yard, can hold enough water (just a teaspoon will do!) for mama mosquito to lay her eggs. 

Attend the meeting to learn more about this surprisingly interesting public service.

*The complete RFP for the lighthouse area is:

1. Repair/Replace as necessary the culvert crossing Silver Lake Dr.;
2. Clear/Improve flow in the drainage ditch running to #1 culvert;
3. Repair/Replace as necessary the 2 foot path culverts connecting to #2 drainage ditch;
4. Install a culvert across Live Oak Road from the marsh adjoining the property of Dave Frum to the drainage ditch running along the McDermott property;
5. Clear/Improve flow of the drainage ditch running along the McDermott property;
6. POSSIBLE: install Y-shaped culvert connecting “lighthouse marsh” to McDermott drainage ditch via Clayton Gaskill property;
7. Repair/Replace as necessary the culvert crossing lighthouse road at Lighthouse parking lot/boardwalk;
8. Clear/Improve flow of drainage ditch running from #7 culvert to and across Loop Road.




Comments powered by Disqus