BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – Kern County’s ongoing battle against disease-carrying mosquitoes has a new weapon. A truck-mounted sprayer that’s capable of producing a super-fine, super-effective mist is coming to a neighborhood near you.
It’s called a Wide Area Larvicide Spraying system, and it will specifically target ankle-biters, or as they’re more formally known, Aedes aegypti. Those are the persistent bugs that showed up in Arvin in 2013, made their way to Bakersfield in 2018 and haven’t left since then.
They’re not just annoying – they can carry West Nile Virus. Starting June 6, the Kern Mosquito and Vector Control District’s new spraying system – WILS for short – will embark on a six-week pilot project. But you’re not invited to watch, even if you’re tempted by the rather noisy motor.
If WILS is coming to your neighborhood – and this year, at least, only three high-risk areas are being targeted, it’ll literally be in the middle of the night. Though the county’s mosquito abatement authorities say the chemical is not harmful to people, animals or plants, they’re asking us all to stay inside until the sprayer has been gone for 30 minutes.
Terry Knight of the mosquito abatement district says the sprayers use advanced technology.
“This actually has an atomizer on top of it that you’ll see that will actually break this material into small microns,” he said. “It puts some real fine mist high up into the atmosphere. The idea is to spread this plum of material over the tops of homes into the front yards and the back yards, and it should be about a 300-foot swath.”
Part two of the plan is continued vigilance among the public. You should dump out all standing water in your yard and be aware that trouble puddles might not be easily visible. Sure, many people know about tiny breeding pools, such as the saucers that catch runoff from potted plants, but consider things like landscaping drains and sprinkler valve covers. Knight suggests duct-taping over the holes in valve covers and inserting window-screen mesh under drain covers.
Fighting mosquito-borne illness is a task that never ends. At least the weapons and strategies of this war – technology and vigilance – seem to be improving.