Pestered: City sprays for mosquitos as residents itch for relief

A duck swims through a large makeshift lake of standing water Monday at Payne Brownsville.The city will begin a three-day mosquito spraying operation aimed at the adult mosquito populations that have been frequenting standing water leftover from Hurricane Hanna and Sunday’s rainfall. (Denise Cathey/The Brownsville Herald)

Spraying is underway across Brownsville this week to combat mosquitoes that have troubled the community since the passing of Hurricane Hanna and subsequent storms.

That news should come as a relief to residents who have been concerned about diseases spread by the blood-sucking pests.

“It concerns me because I don’t know where the mosquitoes have been or if they have bitten someone else,” said Carmen Galvan, a Brownsville resident who usually exercises outdoors daily. “I have a resaca in my backyard, and there’s thousands of mosquitoes on my lawn. So I have to be very precautious whenever I go outside.”

Mosquitos can carry and transmit various diseases, which the health department specified does not include the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Still, the insects do pose a risk for transmitting Zika, Dengue, Chikungunya, West Nile Virus, and Malaria (Yellow Fever).

The City of Brownsville started spraying for mosquitos Tuesday and plans on have the entire city sprayed by Thursday, according to city officials. Eight different drivers will be using city trucks with ULV sprayers on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday to get rid of the pests.

Los Fresnos also started spraying within its city limits Friday and will continue to alternate the spraying until mosquitoes are under control, according to city officials there.

Until the mosquitoes are under control, though, area residents have been changing their habits.

For example, Galvan decided to start exercising indoors because the last time she went for a run she got bit more than 10 times.

Also at Hardknox Strength and Performance in Brownsville, which has an open-concept to its gym, patrons there are finding ways to stay active without being attacked by the mosquitos. Some of the measures they are taking include wearing long sleeves and using mosquito repellent.

“We have tons of grass and flooding behind our facility, and we joke about the mosquitos just waiting there, plotting to attack us once we open (the doors) and all gather,” said Kassandra McClanahan, an owner at Hardknox. “Members wear long sleeves, use face gaiters instead of a face mask for more coverage around the face and neck.”

Brownsville city officials encourages residents to use deet, avoid being outside around dusk and dawn, dress appropriately, and pour out any containers of water in their yards. Bird baths, tires, rain gutters that haven’t been cleaned out, and any other sources of standing water are breeding grounds for mosquito larvae.

The city’s health department also suggests that residents mow their grass so that mosquitos can’t hide in the brush. “It’s also important for people to protect their pets, because mosquitos carry heart worms,” Brownsville Public Health Director Dr. Arturo Rodriguez said.

Spraying began in Districts 1 through 16 at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday and will continue on Districts 17 to 32 on Wednesday at the same time. On Thursday, District 33 and all of Brownsville’s bike trails, parks, and schools will be sprayed at 6:30 p.m.