On Friday, Santa Clara County plans to hover over the Palo Alto Flood Basin — an area known to be a mosquito breeding ground around this time of the year — to release a specific bacteria found in soil to stunt mosquitoes from maturing.
The county's Vector Control District, which was formed to combat diseases transferred to humans from parasites and other wildlife, is scheduled to fly low in a helicopter on Friday around 7:30 a.m. to spray the area. The process is expected to last a few hours, according to the county.
"We follow the mosquito management best practices recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency," Vector Control District Manager Dr. Nayer Zahiri said in a county press release Wednesday. "These efforts have been proven to be safe and effective for more than 25 years."
The target of interest is the winter salt marsh mosquito (Aedes squamiger), one of more than 50 types of mosquitoes that live in California. Known to be vicious daytime biters with a traveling distance of more than 15 miles from its breeding grounds, these particular mosquitoes become full-fledged adults by mid-February to mid-March. But in order to do so, they feed on the microorganisms that exist in the marshlands, hence their common name, the winter salt marsh.
That's where staff from the vector control district will step in to treat the area with a bacteria found in soil known as Bacillus thuringiensis var. Israelensis (also known as Bti) and methoprene, a common ingredient found in home insect sprays that regulates growth. Once mosquito larvae feed on the bacteria, they're prevented from becoming adults.
According to the county press release, the treatment is "eco-friendly," "short-lived in the environment" and is not harmful to birds, fish, other insects, wildlife or humans. Still, the marsh trails around the treatment areas will be closed to the public during this time.
For free assistance with residential mosquito control, the public can contact the district office by calling 408-918-4770 or filling out a service request online at SCCVector.org.