Aerial spraying planned to combat marsh mosquitoes

August 23, 2012 12:48:23 AM PDT
The signs are posted -- Santa Clara County is preparing to fight off millions of aggressive mosquitoes first thing in the morning. The county's vector control will use aerial spraying to try to stop more salt marsh mosquito eggs from hatching. The spraying will take place at 7 a.m. in a marsh to the east of Highway 101, where the insects are breeding.

Although many residents and their children have been bitten by the newly hatched salt marsh mosquitoes, many Palo Alto residents had no idea that aerial spraying would take place.

Michelle Palermo had a child practicing soccer at Palo Alto's Greer Park Wednesday evening. She says her two children have been repeatedly bitten by aggressive mosquitos from the nearby marsh.

"The other night, in fact, I had in fact about 30 mosquitoes in my house and I had to get some spray, which I don't really like to do," she said.

Even though she hates the pests, she doesn't like the idea that Santa Clara County Vector Control District is resorting to aerial spraying to try and control the millions of salt march mosquitoes that have invaded a five mile area around the Palo Alto flood basin.

"I have mixed feelings about it; I'm not really sure, I don't know the chemicals they're using," Palermo said.

Vector Control spokesperson Russ Parman says aerial spraying is the only way to cover the hundreds of acres in which the pests are breeding. A broken flood gate submerged dormant mosquito eggs in water, allowing them to hatch. He says the chemicals being used are specifically targeted to the mosquito larvae and do not threaten humans.

"Every one of these products that we use has gone through literally hundreds of millions of dollars of research before the companies that produced them can even get these things to market," he said.

"Lots of things have been verified as not to be harmful until 20 years later they are; that's not much of a comfort to me," parent Amy Santullo said.

Dontspraycalifornia.org spokesperson Michael Cohen says the planned aerial spraying is wrong.

"If they're spraying it in the air, then it's an improper way of administering it and then it could get into people's lungs and it could be dangerous for people," he said.

Cohen says bricks of the insecticide should be placed directly in the water.

Vector Control says the spraying will happen as planned Thursday morning unless the winds exceed 10 miles per hour because they don't want the spary going anywhere but the marsh.


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