Pest problem in Burbage Grant

Published 9:55 pm Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Burbage Grant neighborhood has been beset by an unusual influx of mosquitoes recently, and neighbors have taken to social media to share their concerns and struggles.

“I sprayed my body up and down, then put on a long-sleeved shirt and pants, and THEN sprayed the bug spray on my clothes,” Facebook user Blair Dial wrote in response to a post on the Burbage Grant Neighbors Facebook page about the mosquitoes. “I still got bit more than a dozen times, and killed as many before they could bite more.”

Neighborhood residents Artie and Sabrina Lewis agreed that this was one of the worst mosquito problems they’ve experienced in more than 10 years of living in the neighborhood.

Email newsletter signup

“You couldn’t even walk outside without getting attacked,” Artie said. “It seemed like a bite every second.”

The pests have kept the couple from enjoying their porch, despite cans of OFF! Deep Woods insect repellent.

“We sprayed two cans and we still couldn’t sit out there,” Sabrina said.

Suffolk mosquito control superintendent Charles Abadam stated in an email that 36 service requests were submitted on Monday concerning the aggressive population of Eastern Salt Marsh mosquito species affecting the Burbage Grant community.

For comparison, 37 service requests were submitted from the rest of Suffolk on Monday, excluding Burbage Grant, according to the email.

“The mosquito event that’s happening in Burbage Grant is very unusual,” Abadam said. “I’ve been working here for 11 years, and that’s one of the worst problems that I’ve ever encountered.”

He attributed some of the recent problem to mosquitoes breeding at Craney Island in Portsmouth, which is a mile or two from the edge of the neighborhood. Wind gusts can carry the insects across that distance and into the salt water marshes of Burbage Grant.

“If it’s a windy day in that direction, there is potential for mosquitoes to travel that distance,” said Keith Lockwood, Interagency and International Environmental Services branch chief for Army Corps of Engineers Norfolk District, which manages the 2,500-acre Craney Island facility. “But the majority of mosquitoes are going to stay within a mile or two of where they hatched.”

Mosquito populations for a season are influenced by weather, rainfall and other factors. Suffolk Mosquito Control can identify more than 30 distinct species, according to Abadam, and each has a different life cycle.

“It’s dependent on the kind of weather that the mosquitoes have to utilize,” Abadam said. “All environmental factors lend to the amount of mosquito breeding in a particular season.”

Lockwood described mosquito control as a three-pronged effort. Mosquito breeding areas in standing water, such as in ditches with debris blocking water passage, are addressed, along with targeted efforts to eliminate adult mosquitos and larvae with adulticide and larvicide agents, respectively.

“We hit them with larvicide to get as many of them as they are concentrated in the water, then hit them with adulticide for the ones that did emerge,” he said.

Three different trap sites in Burbage Grant were monitored on Tuesday, after the neighborhood was sprayed for mosquitoes on Monday.

Trucks with mounted sprayers will drive through the neighborhood on Wednesday, coinciding with a joint aerial spraying by the Army Corps of Engineers and the city of Portsmouth over federal properties on Craney Island, on adjacent city properties and in the Churchland area.

“This spray and our ground sprays should help suppress the mosquito population in the Burbage Grant area,” Abadam said.

Mosquito Control is prepared to spray again on Friday, depending on the results observed on Thursday.