2010-05-28 / Front Page

An Itchy Summer For Residents?

By Howard Schwach
It’s liable to be a long, hot, itchy summer for residents of Arverne, Edgemere and Bayswater.

Arverne, Edgemere and Bayswater are all heavily impacted by the salt marsh mosquitoes that breed in Jamaica Bay and its environs. Google Map Arverne, Edgemere and Bayswater are all heavily impacted by the salt marsh mosquitoes that breed in Jamaica Bay and its environs. Google Map That’s because the city’s budgetary crisis makes it unlikely that there will be any mosquito abatement programs in Rockaway this summer.

“If you get West Nile [disease], give us a call. If not, good luck,” the city’s Department of Health (DOH) recently told Community Board 14 District Manager Jonathan Gaska. “If you can put money in the budget, we’ll [spray].”

Gaska told The Wave this week that the city used Bactimos, a larvicide that kills the mosquito larvae, early last summer and it provided a couple of weeks of relief to the impacted east end communities.

“The last five weeks of the summer were a nightmare,” he added.

Gaska explained that our Jamaica Bay mosquitoes are “salt marsh mosquitoes” that do not carry disease.

“They are considered a nuisance, not a health problem,” Gaska said. “The fresh water mosquitoes are the ones that carry the West Nile Disease, so the city is not too concerned about Rockaway.”

Joanne Paterson, the president of the Arverne Civic Association, thinks that the city should do at least as much as it did last year – spreading Bactimos from helicopters over the areas around Jamaica Bay.

“The mosquitoes are dangerous, they spread infection and disease,” she said. “The city should do what it has to do to keep the mosquito population in check.”

City Councilman James Sanders, who represents the impacted areas, said that he put money in the city budget last year to address the mosquito problem in Rockaway.

A spokesperson for Sanders said that he believes that some of last year’s money is left over and should be used this year.

“We’re planning to put money for spraying into the budget again,” said Donovan Richards, a spokesperson for Sanders. “We have to wait until the state budget is in to know what we have to spend.”

That budget will not be in until late June, experts say.

That may well be too late for Rockaway residents.

“We’ve been lucky so far because it has not been too hot,” Gaska said.

Wait until we get a week or so of temperatures in the high 70s and low 80s and we’ll start to see just how bad the problem can become.”

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