You asked: Feds paid for part of aerial mosquito spraying

Published 11:45 am Saturday, September 17, 2011

Curious about something in Western Tidewater? Send your question to, and we’ll do our best to find the answer.

You asked: Who paid for Tuesday’s mosquito spraying and why were only cities and towns sprayed?

FRANKLIN—The aerial spraying of Franklin, Courtland, Boykins and Zuni for mosquitoes on Tuesday night was funded by the Virginia Department of Health, said David Gaines, state public health entomologist.

“We applied for (Federal Emergency Management Agency) approval so the state department would be reimbursed,” Gaines said.

FEMA will cover 75 percent of the cost and the balance will come from the state.

The spraying was done due to the increased number of mosquitoes after Hurricane Irene and the spread of disease, like Eastern Equine Encephalitis and West Nile virus.

The wait for FEMA approval is why residents were not notified much in advance, Gaines said.

“We didn’t get FEMA approval of spraying until Friday,” he said.

The insecticide, dibrom, was ordered and trucked from its production facility in Axis, Ala.

In addition, the planes used to spray were available Tuesday and the department didn’t want to wait for fear the problem would get worse, Gaines said.

The mosquitoes began coming off the flood plains on Sept. 6 or 7, Gaines said. Mosquitoes can lay eggs after every blood meal, meaning the problem could’ve gotten worse with time.

“We wanted to get the spraying done as soon as possible,” he said. “We don’t want mosquitoes biting people for two weeks.”

Gaines said cost is the reason the spray blocks, or areas designated to spray for the mosquitoes did not include larger parts of the counties. The department sprayed 11,500 acres at $2.40 per acre and kept the spraying within the most populated areas.

“We tried to place spray blocks along the most populated areas and also wanted to get the source of the mosquitoes (the Blackwater River),” he said. “We can’t spray the whole county because it’s too cost prohibitive.”

Dibrom is not harmful to humans or livestock, Gaines said. The department sprayed two-thirds of a fluid ounce of the insecticide per acre, which is a very low volume.

“It’s like taking less than a shot glass of liquid, aerosolizing it and spreading it over an area the size of a football field,” he said.