It’s Your Money: The price of keeping pests away

It’s Your Money: The price of keeping pests away

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) -Horry County’s Mosquito Control Program spent nearly $150,000 on preventing mosquito in the first five months of the fiscal year.

Mosquito control supervisor James Brock said the program has a $150,000 budget to spend on the chemicals it sprays on the ground and in the air.

Record numbers of service calls following Hurricane Florence have taken a huge chunk of that budget.

“Usually there’s money left over in the rollover… we didn’t have it this year, I mean it got wiped, everything got wiped,” Brock said.

Brock said following flooding, he received more than 6,000 calls in a matter of days.

“That’s the first time I have ever seen those many calls, ever,” he said.

Brock explained the high volume of mosquitoes were from eggs laid at the high watermark after Hurricane Matthew and Joaquin.

“Over time, as the water recedes that egg dries up,” he explained. “It’s where it flooded in the past, it dried up, it laid dominant, they get wet again and they take off.”

Brock predicts Florence will impact the mosquito population next spring and potentially in years to come.

The county’s budget of $150,000 is to purchase the chemicals, but the total cost to battle the insects is much more.

The program also must pay the salary for three full-time employees and four to five part-time employees, maintenance and fuel for its trucks and sprayers.

The county also conducts aerial spraying to treat large areas at once. Brock said the program has a $150,000 budget for that service. The county bids the service out every few years. Check registers revealed Horry County paid more than $30,000 to Allen Aviation since January.

The funding from these services are drawn from the Stormwater Management Fund, which is made up of money collected from unincorporated county resident’s stormwater fees.

Brock said this service and costs are necessary to protect residents’ and their livestock’s health.

The unincorporated areas of Horry County have not had a case of West Nile Virus or Eastern Equine Encephalitis Virus this season, according to Brock.

Brock said along with increase floods, weather temperatures and development in the county impact the number of mosquitoes.

“You figure the rain coming off the roofs, the gutters, the road, the storm drains, it’s got to go somewhere and that’s our problem right now,” he said.

The program regularly sprays parks and sports fields, but the rest of its service is based on calls.

When Brock receives a call, he goes out and inspects the area to find out where the mosquitoes are coming from. He said most of the calls can be solved by educating the resident on dumping items that allow water to collect.

“Pet dishes, boats, tarps, tires, flower pots, cans,” he gave as examples. “We’re our own worst enemies.”

If he finds a high number of mosquitoes per minute in a certain area, then the county will spray in that area, either with its vehicles or by plane.

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