Calcasieu Mosquito Control targets mosquitoes from the air - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Calcasieu Mosquito Control targets mosquitoes from the air

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It may have gotten off to a slow start due to a colder than normal winter, but mosquito season is in full swing."An outbreak can come at any time. It can be quiet one day and the next day boom you get a lot of mosquitoes," said Scott Willis, Calcasieu Mosquito Control Director.

According to Willis the spray trucks are effective, but the department's two planes can attack the problem areas in the parish.

"We pretty much don't know where we are going to spray until our surveillance comes in on a daily basis. We have employees out every morning around 6:30 and they do onsite testing and check traps," said Willis.

Willis said rainfall usually dictates where they fly and most of the time it's in the southern part of the parish.

"We have a real problem with salt marsh mosquitoes near Cameron Parish. In a couple of days those mosquitoes can travel 20 to 30 miles and we find them in traps in DeQuincy," explained Willis.

Pilot Reagan Cook has been spraying for more than 36 years. He said the process has changed an awful lot.

"It's a lot more high-tech. We used to do it all by the seat of our pants and just keep an eye on where we were going," recalled Cook.

They now use GPS to map out their specific target spray areas and cover anywhere from 12,000 to 16,000 acres per flight.

"We're kind of building a barrier around the city and the marshes and stuff... and we fly over the cities wherever the counts are the highest," said Cook.

With mosquitoes most active at night, their work in the skies begins at sunset -- for more than one reason.

"We're spraying the consistency of hair spray at 300 feet. If you sprayed earlier than that with the heat still rising - it would never come down," said Willis.

The planes fly low enough to get the most bugs and make a difference. They also have access to restricted air space.

"We can go where no one else can go. Even the crop dusters have to maintain several rules. We can operate under waivers and stuff where we can kind of get in people's backyards and get close to them," said Cook.

They do have an off season, which is usually from the end of October to the beginning of March.
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