US Air Force Battles Mosquitoes

A recent mission of the US Air Force happened over the Texan skies, fighting off the tiniest airborne invaders—mosquitoes.

According to Master Sgt Bob Barko, Jr, the rains of Hurricane Harvey had overwhelmed local pest controls so much that it resulted in the Air Force Reserve Command’s 910th Airlift Wing being assigned to conduct aerial sprays starting the 8th of September throughout more than a million acres of land.

“The last time that we did an area of this size was in 2005 in the aftermath of Katrina,” the superintendent of public affairs for the wing said.

Barko added that the Air Force finished spraying on the 21st of September, four weeks faster than the six-week operating time for Hurricane Katrina.

“With Harvey, we were able to bring in an extra aircraft and update some of our methods which enabled us to get about the same area done in a third of the time, about two weeks,” Barko continued.

The area was more than 1.4 million acres in eastern Texas, with the Houston area included, according to the Air Force.

“It’s a pest insect, and for the folks trying to rebuild and trying to repair the area, they were reporting about 40 mosquito bites a minute,” Barko said.

“After application, they were down to about five a minute,” he added.

According to Dr Mustapha Debboun, director of the Mosquito Control Division of Harris County Public Health, local efforts were rendered ineffective after the roads across the country were submerged in water.

Naled, an insecticide meant primarily for mosquitoes, was used for the spraying. Both Debboun and Barko assured, however, that the spray has never caused adverse human or environmental impacts.

Debboun said that they used the same products three years ago in Houston.

“The only difference from 2014 to 2017 is we used smaller planes or contracted civilian planes. The only difference now is when people see a C-130, they worry, and they shouldn’t”, he added.

Cobler, P. (2017, September 27). Air Force battles pests – Houston Chronicle.

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