McHenry County at war with mosquitoes

Heat, rain contribute to extremely high pest population

They’re everywhere.

In parks, in backyards, on streets, in your hair.

McHenry County is waging war against a formidable mosquito population.

The recent rains and record heat have created a floodwater superbrood of “aggressive” mosquitoes, said Denver Schmitt, assistant to the Crystal Lake director of public works.

Last year, the highest trap count at a testing location in Crystal Lake was 568. So far this year, the number is about double at 962.

Schmitt said crews will be conducting additional adult mosquito control operations over the next week to interrupt the mosquito breeding cycle. A second citywide misting of synthetic pyrethroid took place Wednesday night and was conducted by Clarke Environmental Mosquito Management, the company contracted by many McHenry County municipalities.

“We do see a reduction in mosquitoes. It’s not foolproof, but the spray, if it makes contact with a mosquito, will kill it,” Schmitt said, adding that the cost of misting is about $12,400 for each treatment. Schmitt said this is the worst mosquito infestation he’s seen in years.

For “health and safety,” Algonquin is taking similar steps and has allotted about $40,000 for misting for the year, Assistant Village Manager Michael Kumbera said.

McHenry County also is monitoring the situation, said Keri Zaleski, the county health department’s community information coordinator.

“We are seeing a lot of mosquitoes right now, but they’re nuisance mosquitoes due to all the rain and flooding. Nuisance mosquitoes do not carry human disease,” Zaleski said. “We’ve had one positive mosquito batch in the county this year, which is not unusual.”

Clarke also examines and treats breeding sites throughout the county, including storm sewer catch basins. The program helps control mosquitoes while they are in the larval stage.  

“All the products are EPA-registered for residential and recreational areas,” said Clarke regional manager George Balis, adding that the amount each municipality pays for misting and larval control varies based on size and amount of standing water. Balis recommends area residents drain or empty any standing water in their yards and wear repellent when outside. Balis said mosquito eggs are laid on or in water.

“A resident probably would not be able to identify mosquito eggs,” Balis said, adding that introducing chemicals or bacteria that destroy larva in water is one of the best ways to combat them. “In general, you can see mosquito larva, which are little wiggly things that might be in your bird bath. If there’s water, just dump it.”

Only female mosquitoes bite because they need blood to fortify their eggs.

“The female mosquito needs blood for nutrients so they have nutrients for the egg-laying process,” he said.

There are about 40 different mosquito species in the Chicago area, Balis said, and each one of them “works in a different way.”

The mosquitoes are making this summer a busy time for Melodie Koukol, owner of Woodstock-based Koukol Mosquito. Homeowners and commercial properties hire Koukol each spring and summer.

“We spray everything that’s green,” Koukol said, while spraying a Bull Valley home with her own product containing pyrethroids and pyrethrin, a derivative of chrysanthemums. “Fleas, ticks, mosquitoes. It kills them on contact.”

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