This summer has been typical for mosquito populations. The rice-growing portions of the parish, as well as the areas south of the Intracoastal Canal have been pestered by rice-field mosquitoes and marsh species. Unfortunately, our peak mosquito season has not yet arrived. Our most prolific species in Vermilion Parish breeds in rice irrigation water and appears in the highest numbers around September, in sequence with second crop rice irrigation. That spike in populations coincides with teal season and football season. Ask any child who has had to wait on a school bus in the dawn hours and they can tell you about mosquitoes. But with targeted ground and aerial applications, we eventually bring those populations back to bearable numbers. The Vermilion Parish Police Jury gives our mosquito control department full support every year. As a result, Vermilion Mosquito Control is fully funded again this year.

Fuel prices are a concern for everyone across this country. Local government is
no different. While the Police Jury is contemplating a change in work schedule for the
road department, we will continue our normal spray schedule with the airplane and with our
trucks. It is possible that we will make some adjustments to our daytime inspection and
larvicide operations to reduce mileage and fuel consumption. Vermilion Mosquito Control
operates about 3 dozen surveillance traps and rain gauges. Our day crew's primary tasks
are to identify where the mosquitoes are most populous (by species) and target mosquito
larvae in their aquatic environment. They apply larvicide to ditch water when they find
mosquito larvae in ditches.

Now for a short course in epidemiology: In 2007 LSU's Animal Disease
Diagnostic Laboratory tested nearly 25,000 pools of mosquitoes trapped by mosquito
control districts throughout the state. Less than 2.5% of those tested were found to carry
West Nile Virus (or other forms of Encephalitis). More than half of those positive samples
were a single species, the Southern House Mosquito. This mosquito breeds almost entirely
in septic ditches and storm drains. The Dark Rice Field Mosquito samples tested positive
a total of 0.03%. That's good news because this species accounts for the majority of
complaints we receive, and shows up more frequently in our traps than any other species.
Of the 2 marsh species resident in Vermilion Parish, only one was found to be positive at a
rate of 0.12%. Remember, these percentages are from statewide testing, not just from
Vermilion Parish.

We have long known that the Southern House Mosquito is the primary vector of West
Nile Virus in Vermilion Parish. Our #1 goal in targeting this species is to eliminate them
while still in the larval stage. That is why half of our daytime employees are larviciders.
And while the percentages quoted above may seem comforting, I want to point out that
it only takes one infected mosquito biting a susceptible individual to wreck or steal a life.
West Nile Virus is present in Vermilion and has been here for several years. Therefore, it is
imperative that you take every precaution to protect yourself from the mosquitoes that transmit
it. Long sleeves and pants are best, and the use of DEET is necessary, too. If you don't need
to be outside at dusk, stay inside. Vermilion Parish Mosquito Control will continue to
monitor and fight mosquitoes and the disease they vector.