LOWER TOWNSHIP — A bubble-canopy helicopter bobbed and weaved like a dragonfly over the marshes Tuesday behind the Wildwoods, trying to reduce the risk of West Nile virus and other mosquito-spread diseases.
The Cape May County Mosquito Control Department is seeking to prevent a plague of mosquitoes this week after Hurricane Irene left standing pools of saltwater near bayfront subdivisions across the county.
Director Peter Bosak said workers are applying a pesticide to kill larval mosquitoes once they hatch.
“The helicopter has been looking at the upper edges of the salt marsh, where a lot of standing water has collected,” Bosak said.
Work will continue through the week. Bosak said the goal is to target two notoriously voracious saltwater species: Aedes solicitans and Culex salniarius.
“Solicitans is the classic salt marsh mosquito and a vector for Eastern Equine Encephalitis,” he said.
The agency has not found this disease in Cape May County mosquitoes this year, but has seen the West Nile virus in insect samples collected in Seaville and Belleplain.
The agency opened a levee on Pond Creek in Lower Township to allow it to drain into the Delaware Bay — and is pumping water out of the Fishing Creek marsh to reduce breeding habitat for mosquitoes.
If these efforts are not enough, the agency might have to spray the adult mosquitoes, he said.
Residents who live along the back bays might also see an increase in biting gnats over the next couple weeks, Bosak said.
But the good news is the season is over for arguably the biggest plague along the bay: the greenhead fly.
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