During the summer, dusk in Columbia County is usually accompanied by the buzzing of common Georgia pests - mosquitoes.
But this year, county officials say, residents can more likely enjoy the outdoors without being bitten by the flying blood-suckers.
"Two years ago, even three years ago, it was a major issue," said Pam Tucker, the director of the county's Emergency Services Division. "It was a major issue. It was the number one complaint during those summers. So it really is good news that those numbers have subsided."
Complaints about mosquitoes, which were formerly directed to the county's Roads and Bridges and Health departments, are now funneled through the 311 Customer Service Call Center. Tucker said the call center has fielded a few mosquito complaints this year, mostly from people who live near ponds or other stagnant bodies of water.
"But it has been dry and I think that helped a lot, too," Tucker said.
The county's Roads and Bridges Department is charged with the mosquito control program, which includes distributing larvicide pellets into standing water at such places as county-owned storm drains, man holes and retention ponds.
Charles Norris, a Roads and Bridges manager, said that in the past few years employees have carried larvicide in their vehicles to distribute whenever they saw an area that needed to be treated.
"We haven't done that this year because we haven't had the problem this year," Norris said. The larvicide has been used only a few times this year.
Tim Holloway, a Roads and Bridges assistant manager, said the larvicide creates a chemical film on top of water preventing mosquito larvae from maturing into flying, biting adults.
Unlike the wet spring of 2005, this spring and summer have been dry leaving very little standing water for mosquitoes to breed in.
"When we have a real wet summer, that's when you usually have most of your mosquitoes because they thrive on that," Holloway said.
Homeowners can protect their property from mosquitoes by making sure there are no breeding spots for mosquitoes to multiply.
Remove standing water from wheelbarrows, buckets, flower pots, old tires and anything that can collect the inch or two of water necessary for mosquito larvae to grow.
"People are doing a better job of keeping those breeding places out of their yards," Tucker said.
Long sleeves and repellent are also important in avoiding mosquito bites.
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