Saturday, April 20, 2024

Whatever happened to that West Nile deal in York County?

Less than two weeks ago, a mosquito pool in the lower part of York County tested positive for the West Nile virus.

After retesting the area multiple times, county officials said there was no sign of mosquitoes with the virus.

“We pooled back in the same area,” said Elizabeth Hodson, operations superintendent for Mosquito Control and Stormwater Maintenance.

The mosquitoes were found in south York County in a pond at someone’s home, Hodson added.

She and her team treated the pond with larvicide and went back the following Monday to put mosquito fish in the pond.

RELATED STORY: Mosquitoes in York County test positive for West Nile. Here’s when and where ground spraying will happen

While the test came up negative, the threat of the virus is very real.

“West Nile virus is out there ––– it’s in the birds,” Hodson said, adding in drier areas, mosquitoes and birds fight for territories around water and reptiles can harbor the disease.

But how does the county treat mosquito-prone areas and how do they trap mosquitoes in the first place?

Hodson said the county uses a synthetic pesticide from chrysanthemums which has an added stimulant and a higher kill rate.

“There’s not a lot out there,” she said, in regards to other pesticide options, adding this synthetic kind is what most localities use.

One pesticide is known to kill bees and the other is heavier, terrible for the public and has a bad reputation since it was used in gas chambers.

Hodson noted there is a new organic pesticide on the market made from chrysanthemums and if the mosquito pools in York County become resistant to the current pesticide, it is an option.

The department works “very closely” with the Health Department and currently tests for 35 different species, setting 37 traps each week to keep monitoring the mosquitoes and track data.

“Our numbers in our traps are very low,” Hodson said. “Less than 50.”

The Mosquito Control unit uses three different kinds of traps to catch mosquitoes: the CDC Light Trap which is essentially a “catch bag” with dry ice and a battery, the BG Sentinel, which also uses dry ice and cow’s breath as bait for Asian Tiger mosquitoes and lastly, the Grab It, a bucket full of “nasty stinky water” and toolbox mechanism with sand.

When asked why the county does not use chickens like Virginia Beach, Hodson said it is very costly and time consuming.

Mosquitoes are attracted to dry ice because of carbon dioxide and standing water since it’s a breeding ground for mosquitoes who have gotten blood meals and want to lay eggs.

Besides wearing bug spray and long-sleeved shirts, other tips to reduce the amount of mosquitoes in your yard include dumping out standing water.

Residents can also call York County if the job is too big and have their water treated.

For more information or to fill out a service request, visit the York County Mosquito Control website or call 757-890-3790.

Julia Marsigliano
Julia Marsigliano
Julia Marsigliano is a multimedia reporter for WYDaily. She covers everything on the Peninsula from local government and law enforcement agencies to family-run businesses and weather updates. Before WYDaily, she covered Hampton and Newport News for WYDaily’s sister publication, HNNDaily before both publications merged in December 2018. Julia was born in Tokyo, Japan and moved to Long Island, New York in 2001. A true New Yorker, she loves pizza, bagels and good Chinese food. Send comments, tips and other tidbits to You can follow her on Twitter at @jmarsigliano

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