Mosquito complaints along the Grand Strand on the rise

The heavy storms Horry and Georgetown counties saw over the spring were a double-edged sword; they helped alleviate some of the Grand Strand’s problems from drought, but they made the area one big nest in which mosquitoes could hatch.

Tom Garigen, director of Horry County Stormwater Management, said the number of complaints the county has been getting from residents about mosquitoes is a lot higher this year than it was in 2011. Because of that, the department is conducting aerial or ground mosquito spraying across the county on a weekly basis.

Terrill Mincey, with stormwater management, said the county has had 135 complaints from June 1 through June 26. For the same period in 2011, there were 48 calls.

“What we saw in those cases was what we call the floodwater mosquitoes,” Garigen said. In those cases, the insects stay dormant in flood plains, and a large hatch-off happens once a big rain hits the area.

Tim Chatman, with Georgetown County mosquito control, said they have seen over 300 requests for service during the month of June. During the same month in 2011, there wasn’t even half that amount, he added.

“This June is not a typical June,” Chatman said.

Mincey said numbers began increasing in March, when 80-degree temperatures and afternoon storms made the mosquito population start to increase. Chatman added their activity started also started in March, which is the earliest he’s ever seen.

“They’re totally dependent on rain and weather,” Mincey said.

And it only takes one good rain and an open container to turn someone’s front yard into an insect breeding ground.

Mincey said the biggest mistake is most people look around their house and see ponds and ditches as mosquito breeding sites. However, those are far from the only ones.

Buckets homeowners use to wash their cars could serve as breeding grounds. So could pet dishes that are left outside for a few days, or boats sitting out in the yard without a cover on them.

In general, water must be standing for seven to 10 days to produce mosquitoes, according to information from Horry County Stormwater Management’s website.

To eliminate breeding sites around a home or business, look for any place that standing water can collect. Empty water-filled containers regularly, such as pet dishes or birdbaths. Turn containers upside down or remove them from exposure to rain.