"There's a tremendous amount of water. We've had a wet winter, a wet spring. It seems like every three days it rains. And of course, mosquitoes need water to reproduce, and they've got plenty of area out there to do it," said Joe Simmons, director of the Chesapeake Mosquito Control Commission. "I don't know what it's going to be like in July or August. We may have the driest summer on record. But as it stands right now, we're in for an interesting spring as long as this water's here."
Simmons says the weather was so wet and cold this winter, that it hindered his crews from cleaning ditches and clearing standing water where mosquitoes like to breed.
"It was either cold, it was snowing, it was raining, and we really lost a lot of work days this winter that we would have spent doing this source reduction work," said Simmons.
But now that the weather is warming up, the city is conducting aerial spraying, by using a larvicide mixture, made up of a liquid solution which is specific to mosquito larvae. Over the next few days, a helicopter will fly low over areas near wooded and open field portions of the city to spray, including areas adjacent to the Great Dismal Swamp, along the Chesapeake and Albemarle Canal, along Route 17 and east along the Northwest River basin to the Route 168 Bypass, and areas south of Elbow Road and south of Pocaty Road.
"It's not going to harm bees, butterflies, birds, fish, children, old folks, the dog - it's perfectly harmless and safe," said Simmons.
The City of Chesapeake is targeting areas where mosquitoes are known to breed. And if they can combat these places early on in the season, it might cut down on the mosquito population.
"These are areas that we literally can't get in there on foot because there's too much water, it's too thick. So if we can knock them down now, then hopefully we'll get a head start on the season," said Simmons.
The aerial spraying will take place from approximately 6 a.m. until 8 p.m. over the next few days. If the weather is not favorable, the spraying will be scheduled to the next favorable day.