Mosquitos blasted

Despite being down to just one plane, Cayman’s mosquito busting unit has carried out its biggest ever single treatment, covering one-third of the land area of Grand Cayman.

‘The immediate aftermath of Hurricane Ivan galvanised the department into greater effort,’ said Mosquito Research and Control Unit (MRCU) director Bill Petrie.

‘We had the potential for a very serious mosquito situation post-Ivan and it had to be dealt with,’ he said.

‘Despite having only one aircraft operational since Ivan and despite having badly damaged facilities, we have been able to accomplish all the goals we set,’ he added.

This year, based on observations of the mangrove swamps, the MRCU was expecting a busy year, said Mr. Petrie.

Because of the damage caused to the mangroves by Hurricane Ivan there was a situation of less water movement and possibly less drainage, he explained.

Conditions were favouring mosquito breeding and although relatively high numbers were being seen, they were certainly not as bad as they would have been had the unit not done its preventative work, said Mr. Petrie.

‘We managed to carry out our large scale preventative operation before the rains came.

‘It was the largest operation we have done to date in our 40 year history,’ he said.

Mr. Petrie explained that there are two types of mosquito control – spraying and larviciding by dropping pellets.

Nearly 17,000 acres -about one-third of the total land area of Grand Cayman – had been covered in one single treatment involving 49,000lbs of pellets, in April to May, said Mr. Petrie.

Because of additional funding given to the unit they would be able to do three or four treatments during the season, he said.

MRCU had lost its second plane through salt water flooding during Hurricane Ivan, he explained.

‘We have just had to overcome the problems of only having one plane,’ says Mr. Petrie.

Two new custom built spraying aircraft have been built for Cayman in the United States.

And the first of those could be here some time later this month, with the second one due to arrive a few weeks later, said Mr. Petrie.

The new planes, white and red in colour, have state-of-the-art technology, greater capacity and more powerful engines than the aircraft they replace, he added.

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