Jun 08, 2012
By Natalia Kozikowska
Last week the residents of South Lawrence began to notice an unusually large number of mosquitoes and horseflies in the area. While there were no set plans to spray last week, this week Mayor Martin Oliner has devised a plan to tackle the problem head on which include informing the public, eliminating mosquito larvae with a natural bacteria and installing mechanical devices to capture and kill horseflies.
The first step for the Mayor has taken is to educate and inform the residents of South Lawrence on how to avoid the breeding of mosquitoes. “We have written to the community to make sure standing water is eliminated” says Oliner. Female mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water and there does not need to be a lot of it for a mosquito to lay its egg. Often the bloodsuckers try to find a small clip of water on the lid of a garbage pail or the base of a flower pot so removing this excess water is crucial in eliminating larvae.
With the help of Nassau County’s Department of Public Works, Oliner has also begun to visit homes in the Lawrence area that are affected the worst. A crew truck is responsible for placing a natural bacteria called “BTI” in standing water near the houses. BTI, a bacteria that eats mosquito larvae, was discovered in Israel over a decade ago. Mayor Oliner wants to ensure his residents that this bacteria is 100 percent natural and will cause no harm to humans. When placed, the bacteria lasts for 60 days.
While eliminating standing water near homes is a good start to get rid of larvae, the biggest problem area for Lawrence is its marshes. Oliner explains that fish and other sea life eat mosquitoes. “If we get free-flowing water with fish and other crabs and shellfish, they will eat the larvae of the mosquitoes” he says. The marshes are currently “clogging” the stream and if Oliner is granted permits by the Department of Environmental Control, he will try to build dikes to induce a free flow. “If we can get more water to flow into the marsh in a non-standing fashion, it will help everything” he says.
An increased number of green and black horseflies have also been a concern for residents and measures have already been taken to eliminate them. Mayor Oliner is using the help of a mechanical device called “Black Box” in order to capture these insects. Once these flies are captured in the “Black Box,” they will eventually starve and die. “I’ve put 11 into the field so far and I’m building another 30 and we will stick them near the marshes” he says. “That should visibly detract from the number of both kinds of flies.” The “Black Box” does not work on mosquitoes.
The strategies that Oliner has proposed and the actions that the Mayor has already taken do not come with any chemical risk. Oliner also says that he is looking to work with a leading etymologist to determine any risk factors and to study the marshes. The etymologist that Oliner met with on Wednesday has worked in New York City to help tackle the threat of West Nile Virus and has worked for large companies like Disney. He hopes that the expert will be able to identify the exact species of bugs present so that Lawrence’s government will have a better idea of how to tackle the problem.
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