Today’s Editorial January 31: Keep mosquito fight going

What a welcomed sight the white and red-tipped plane was arriving at Owen Roberts International Airport Friday.

The new Ayres Turbo Thrush plane is the newest weapon in the ongoing battle between man and mosquito.

It’s one of a pair of mosquito-fighting airplanes being brought to the Cayman Islands to replace the former two yellow MRCU planes. The second one is slated to arrive in early April.

Both of the former planes received salt water damage from Hurricane Ivan; one received a death sentence while the other was repaired.

However, the second plane got its notice of death in August when a crash at the airport’s runway rendered it useless. Thank goodness the pilot escaped unscathed.

Since August the war against mosquitoes has been waged on the ground with trucks.

Once all the necessary paperwork and training is complete, the new planes will be put to work to stop the mozzies, their biting and the unbearable itching that follows.

But just because MRCU is getting back up to speed doesn’t mean that we need to let our guard down.

Residents and visitors must still remain vigilant in the fight against mosquitoes.

Remember that mosquitoes tend to be out at dawn and dusk, and you may be able to avoid getting bitten by staying inside when they’re outside.

Mozzies can suffer a disastrous drying out during mid-day and animals – their potential prey – tend to be active at dawn and dusk.

But not all mosquitoes abide by the dawn to dusk rule, especially in the tropical Cayman Islands.

There are things that homeowners can do to help themselves.

The most effective way to reduce the number of mosquitoes around homes and neighbourhoods is to find and eliminate their breeding sites – standing water. Adults of some mosquito species remain near their breeding site. Others can travel long distances, even up to several miles. Because of this, problem mosquitoes may come from breeding sites some distance away.

Regardless of recent weather patterns – wet, dry, warm, or cool – there are plenty of potential places in which mosquitoes can develop. A neglected bird bath, swimming pool, or clogged rain gutter can produce hundreds of new mosquitoes in a just a few days. Trees uprooted by storms leave soil depressions that collect seepage and rainwater. Large areas of standing water, such as from swamps, sluggishly moving streams or ditches may require efforts beyond those of individual property owners.

If you must be outside when mosquitoes are making themselves known, apply a topical mosquito repellent to help prevent bites.

And last but not least, don’t forget to keep your dogs protected from mosquitoes. The wrong bite from the wrong bug can lead to heartworms in dogs, which can result in death.

Remain vigilant and do your part to partner with MRCU in the ongoing man vs. mosquito battle.

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