Balancing pest control
Hendry County, Fla., a rural community bordering Lake Okeechobee in southern Florida, is home to several organic farms, beekeepers, butterfly breeders and others in environmentally sensitive lines of work. At times, controlling mosquitoes in the area, where West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis are endemic, is at odds with the needs of those delicate operations.
So, Hendry County officials developed a mosquito control program that uses sophisticated global positioning technology to help ensure that all residents are satisfied. “In previous years, we received calls from people raising organic crops and butterfly farms, saying that our mosquito control efforts were detrimental to their businesses,” says Terri Cross, director for Special Districts for Hendry County. “But getting rid of mosquitoes remained a key priority for Hendry County.”
Two years ago, the county commissioned a local office of Roselle, Ill.-based Clarke Mosquito Control to manage its mosquito control program, including inspections of mosquito breeding sites and light traps to determine spraying times. But when the contractor prepared for adult mosquito control spraying, Cross made sure the needs of organic farms and beekeepers were addressed by creating a no-spray list for residents who wanted to opt-out of mosquito control.
Opt-out lists are common for ground applications, but Hendry County needed to cover 100,000 acres, which called for aerial applications. New aerial flight technology allowed Hendry County to respect no-spray areas the way they previously did with ground spraying. The twin-turbine King Air aircraft were equipped with a guidance system that factors in variables like product, droplet size, wind speed and drift to accurately disperse mosquito control products from the air, avoiding no-spray zones. “Since implementing our no-spray list, we’ve had no complaints from residents,” Cross says. “Regardless of whether we spray by ground or air.”
Resident-respectful mosquito control
Hendry County, Fla.
Roselle, Ill.-based Clarke Mosquito Control and Bridgewater, Va.-based Dynamic Aviation
Ongoing since summer 2006
Approximately $350,000 annually