When you think of summers in the Lowcountry, many things come to mind – warmer weather, trips to the beach, and even cold tropical drinks. Unfortunately the warmer weather also brings in some less desirable elements, including one of our more notorious pests, mosquitoes. After historic rains and floods that left the ground saturated in many areas, followed by a mild winter, the Lowcountry is preparing for an early and aggressive onset of mosquito season.
There are 61 species of mosquitoes that reside in South Carolina. The freshwater, backyard mosquitoes remain within 100 yards of their birthplace and fly only during the day. However, salt marsh mosquitoes, which are common in the Lowcountry, can travel as far as 100 miles and are more aggressive biters.
With Kiawah Island’s marsh habitats, mosquitoes can be an issue. However, KICA and Charleston County both employ a variety of methods to keep these populations under control. The county employs both aerial spraying (via plane and/or helicopter) and ground control methods throughout the Charleston area to combat mosquitoes (visit charlestoncounty.org to view a treatment schedule). Led by the Lakes Management team, KICA provides all ground control treatment on Kiawah.
“We have the island divided up into 31 mosquito zones,” said KICA Lakes Supervisor Matt Hill. We use similar equipment to what Charleston County uses to treat both adult and larval stage mosquitoes throughout the island.”
KICA staff treat Kiawah’s storm drains (curb inlets, road drains, golf course drains, etc.) with a larvicide, which is a growth inhibitor that prevents larval stage mosquitoes from growing into biting adults. This larvicide treatment lasts approximately five months. In addition, smaller larvicide tablets can be used to treat persistent standing water due to heavy or frequent rainfall. Staff members also perform weekly mosquito counts to determine if spraying for adult mosquitoes is needed in a specific zone. If spraying is needed, they use a truck-mounted sprayer to treat these areas. Spraying is done overnight (typically between the hours of 4-6 a.m.) to maximize safety and effectiveness
“Mosquito control is a delicate balance of trying to make humans comfortable while not adversely impacting the surrounding environment,” said Hill. “By using specific spraying methods, scheduling and coordination, we try to maintain that balance.”
Hill cautions that though KICA and the county perform treatments, property owners can help control the mosquito population as well.
“The main thing members can do is ensure that there is no standing water around their property,” said Hill. “Things like buckets, bird baths, etc. that hold standing water are prime breeding grounds for these pests.”
Hill advises that if you are experiencing mosquito problems at your property, contact the KICA Lakes Department and they will come and treat if needed. To reach KICA Lakes, call 843-768-2315 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.