More mosquitoes possible

Spraying limited because of mealybug

Residents and visitors to Grand Cayman may notice an increase in the mosquito population as efforts continue to rid the island of the pink hibiscus mealybug.

The Department of Agriculture and the Mosquito Research and Control Unit are working together to ensure mosquito control operations proceed with minimal impact on the national pink hibiscus mealybug eradication program.

Both government departments are working together to strike the important balance between the biological control program for the pink hibiscus mealybug and the maintenance of adequate levels of mosquito control island wide, states a press release.

To this end the DoA will provide MRCU with updates as to areas where biocontrol insects have been released, allowing MRCU to plan their control operations in a way that minimizes the potential exposure of the pink hibiscus mealybug predators to MRCU’s insecticide.

‘We will work alongside the DoA to facilitate their efforts to eradicate this plant destroying pest,’ said Director of MRCU Dr. Bill Petrie.

‘At this stage of the PHM biocontrol program the DoA is currently only releasing the lady bird beetle predators, which due to their size, activity period, and protective shell should not be significantly affected by the ULV (ultra low volume) application techniques used in MRCU’s mosquito control operations,’ said Chief Agriculture and Veterinary Officer Dr. Alfred Benjamin.

However, in the interest of minimizing potential impacts, MRCU will be limiting their adulticiding spray operations in areas where these beneficial insects have been released. This may result in occasional increases in mosquito populations, as is currently being experienced in some areas of the island.

Both Mr. Petrie and Mr. Benjamin are asking for the public’s understanding and patience with the occasional increase in mosquito nuisance that may occur.

‘Everyone’s cooperation is tremendously appreciated and critical to successfully combating the very real and serious threat of the pink hibiscus mealybug,’ said Mr. Benjamin.