Vermillion will wage West Nile war

Vermillion will wage West Nile war by David Lias The city of Vermillion is preparing to use weapons of mass destruction.

The weapons won't be targeted at people. Vermillion will be taking aim at the city's mosquito population, hoping the use of chemical misting will knock down their population and reduce the risk of the West Nile Virus here.

City workers launched a first-strike against the insects in early May, by distributing larvicide in wet areas.

It's a battle, however, that larvicide alone likely won't be able to win. Vermillion and the surrounding area has experienced higher than normal amounts of precipitation this spring.

That's made the city a prime breeding ground for mosquitoes.

While larviciding greatly reduces the production of mosquitoes in treated areas, not every area can be treated. Adult mosquitoes will emerge, and as their population increases, they will annoy and threaten humans.

The city has established six trap sites around Vermillion to monitor adult populations.

City Manager Jim Patrick said the trapping is indicating that, despite the larviciding efforts, Vermillion's mosquito population is growing.

"Over the weekend, we were hitting over 300 (mosquitoes) in the trap on the north side of the city," Patrick said. "Since we're getting so many of them, and the quantity is increasing � when it starts to get that strong, we have to do something for relief."

The city trapped over 1,000 mosquitoes near the recycling center this weekend.

"That's the reason we're looking at spraying starting next week, and spraying in the north part of the city where we are having the highest influx of mosquitoes," Patrick said.

Misting for adult mosquitoes in Vermillion will begin the week of June 21. The insecticide will be applied using a truck-mounted Ultra Low Volume (ULV) misting machine; applications will begin around dusk, when mosquitoes are most active, and non-target insects, such as butterflies, are least active.

The ULV application will utilize Scourge, an insecticide based on a toxin used by flowers to prevent insect damage. It disappears from the environment very quickly and leaves no residue in soils, animals, or humans. Minimal hazard exists to the general public.

However it has caused allergic reactions to applicators who have prolonged exposure to large concentrated quantities.

The city advises residents to stay indoors during the application of the product.

When ULV misting becomes necessary, public notices will be made on KVHT 106.3 FM, KVTK 1570 AM, the city Web site, cable channel 3, and via the police department's portable electronic bulletin board.

Misting will be conducted on either north-south or east-west streets, depending on winds and will usually cover about half the city in a given night. The city has been divided into four spraying zones; Zone 1 lies north of Clark Street and west of Dakota Street, Zone 2 lies north of Clark Street and east of Dakota Street, Zone 3 lies south of Clark Street and west of Dakota Street, and Zone 4 lies south of Clark Street and west of Dakota Street.

Patrick said larviciding is usually about 60 percent effective. Use of mist on adult mosquitoes is less than 50 percent effective, and, once applied, the mist will soon evaporate.

"That's why we're urging citizens to take necessary precautions and use insect repellent and, for example, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants," Patrick said.

Residents are also requested to check their property to eliminate standing water or items that may hold water and where mosquitoes may breed.

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