Counties with EEE debate aerial spraying for mosquitoes

Kalamazoo and Battle Creek

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Counties with cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis are considering aerial spraying to fight the dangerous mosquito-borne disease.

Kalamazoo County is considering the step but has not yet made a decision.

Kalamazoo County Commissioner Michael Quinn believes aerial spraying may be too aggressive to fight the disease.

“The saying is you don’t kill a mosquito with a sledgehammer,” he said.

Quinn believes the focus should be on educational efforts and encouraging people to reduce their risk of exposure by applying repellent.

“The other concern is with the collateral damage that we would have to beneficial insects like pollinators, butterflies,” he said.

Carl Doud, the president of the Michigan Mosquito Control Association and the director of Midland County Mosquito Control, says while spraying could kill some pollinators, the work would have to be done at night when mosquitoes are most active and bees have returned to their hives.

He said spraying would not be harmful to humans, pets or animals.

“If you consider the amount that’s applied to an acre of an area that you would treat. And so, it’s a low amount of active ingredient that’s going out,” he added.

Doud says this late in the season, aerial spraying would have to target adult mosquitoes to have an impact.

“The active ingredient most likely, and the one that we always use is a chemical derived from chrysanthemum flowers. And the common natural name of that chemical is Pyrethrin,” Doud explained.

He believes spraying programs can be impactful if properly administered.

“We have most likely and definitely reduced the risk to the population in this county due to our efforts,” Doud said.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is in talks about possibly providing help with the effort. However, state health officials say the decision to spray will be left up to each county with confirmed cases.

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