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Fort Worth Sticks With Alternatives To Spraying For Mosquitoes


Many cities and counties in the Metroplex are spraying for mosquitoes to help control the spread of West Nile virus. But Fort Worth has decided there are better ways to protect residents.

As of Thursday afternoon, Tarrant County had 77 confirmed human cases of West Nile Virus and a single death. But unlike many neighboring communities, the City of Fort Worth has decided not to spray.

Hanlon: We haven’t had a spraying program in place for over 20 years.

Scott Hanlon is the Assistant Code Compliance Director for Fort Worth . Instead of spraying, he says the city urges citizens to protect themselves with repellant and long sleeved clothing. He says the city has also introduced mosquito-larva eating minnows into the ecosystem.

“Spraying has limited effectiveness. Nobody puts a spraying program in place with the idea that it is going to kill every mosquito in an area or it is going to solve all of your West Nile virus issues,” Hanlon said. “In addition to that, we’ve had citizens concerned with the spraying of chemicals into the air and its potential impacts on human health or environmental impacts," Hanlon said.”

The City of Dallas and Dallas County both spray for mosquitoes. Officials use the solution Aqualuer 20-20, which is permethrin based.

Permethrin is a synthetic insecticide.

The label on the spray recommends people immediately wash it off their skin and clothes. 

Scott Sawlis, the chief entomologist with the Dallas County Health Department, says the department recommends people stay inside during spraying, but he’s not aware of anyone reporting a health problem.

“The product is an EPA approved product that is endorsed by EPA, CDC, the American Mosquito Control Association, and has been used in mosquito control programs for decades. The product is applied as an ultra low volume application, so the risk to humans is very, very low,” he said.

The product’s label cautions that it can be harmful to humans if swallowed. It is also toxic to bees and aquatic life and can only be sprayed on certain crops.

When agencies spray for mosquitoes, they urge people not to follow trucks, to bring animals indoors and to cover any fish ponds.

More About Aqualuer 20-20 | EPA Factsheet on Permethrin

Courtney Collins has been working as a broadcast journalist since graduating from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in 2004. Before coming to KERA in 2011, Courtney worked as a reporter for NPR member station WAMU in Washington D.C. While there she covered daily news and reported for the station’s weekly news magazine, Metro Connection.