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Standing water is the perfect breeding ground for one of the south’s most plentiful pests.
Hurricane Florence dumped nearly 8 trillion gallons of rain over North Carolina, according to the National Weather Service in Raleigh’s estimate. That rain led to catastrophic flooding.
It’s a recipe for the biting little buggers.
Water is still standing in large swathes across the state and it’s creating a plague of mosquitoes the governor has vowed to take action against.
Gov. Roy Cooper on Wednesday ordered $4 million to be spent on mosquito control in counties “under a major disaster declaration.”
“Those counties include: Bladen, Beaufort, Brunswick, Carteret, Columbus, Craven, Cumberland, Duplin, Harnett, Hoke, Hyde, Johnston, Jones, Lee, Lenoir, Moore, New Hanover, Onslow, Pamlico, Pender, Pitt, Richmond, Robeson, Sampson, Scotland, Wayne, and Wilson,” according to the governor’s statement.
“To help local communities in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, I’ve directed state funds for mosquito control efforts to protect people who live in hard-hit areas,” Cooper said in the statement.
The money will be available as soon as Thursday, and each county will get an amount of money determined by how much of their land needs treatment, the release said.
“I’m grateful to Governor Cooper for taking this action to allow us to provide a critical public health service,” Craven County Health Director Scott Harrelson said in a statement. “This has been a serious issue for our county and many others impacted by Hurricane Florence.”
A surge in mosquitoes isn’t uncommon after weather events that lead to major flooding, according to the governor’s office. And though most mosquitoes that “emerge after flooding do not transmit human disease, they still pose a public health problem by discouraging people from going outside and hindering recovery efforts.”
“Large populations of mosquitoes can emerge after heavy rains or flooding & they can cause illnesses such as La Crosse encephalitis, West Nile virus & eastern equine encephalitis. Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants, and be sure to wear insect repellent with DEET,” the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Division of Health tweeted on Saturday.
N.C. State entomologist Michael Reiskind said the flooded areas are leading to a wider variety of mosquitoes hatching, according to The Fayetteville Observer. But they’re not new species and didn’t come from other parts of the state. They just usually aren’t as common.
“In a normal year, in the absence of a hurricane or significant rainfall, most of those eggs would probably die before ever getting a chance to hatch,” Reiskind said, according to the Observer. “But with all the water that has come up, they have gotten a chance to hatch. In some cases, the eggs may live one year.”
Meanwhile, the internet is full of people complaining and making jokes about mosquitoes in the Tar Heel state, calling them “devil bugs” and saying this year’s bugs “must be a different breed” because they seem bigger and hardier than usual.
For more information on mosquitoes and hurricanes, and to learn how to protect yourself, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has some advice on its website.