A mosquito count scheduled for later this month will decide the schedule for any spraying required to control the pest.

Although a tentative schedule has been scheduled for possible mosquito spraying throughout the community, it will not go into effect unless the count done by the county’s mosquito control department warrants it, said Kristi Connell, the association’s public relations director.

Cy Lesser, chief of the Maryland Department of Agriculture’s Mosquito Control, said mosquito counts are a request-only service, with approximately 140 communities in the county having mosquito surveillance performed.

Lesser said the first stage of mosquito counts in the Pines began in early April.

“What happens is, a team goes in and looks for mosquito larvae in various locations like stormwater, undeveloped lots and undrained ditches. Then they will treat those areas with the larvae,” he said.

Lesser said that because Worcester County has had a cool and dry spring, counts for adult mosquitoes will be conducted at the end of May.

There are two methods for conducting adult mosquito counts and the primary way is through light traps, Lesser said. He said there are approximately five traps placed in various sections of the Pines that operate overnight. The next morning inspectors come in, get the light traps, identify and count the mosquitoes.

“In order for a treatment to be done, the mosquito count has to reach a certain level. If it’s below the level, no treatment will be done,” Lesser said. “On average, if 10 mosquitoes get caught each night in the trap and are counted, then treatment could be performed.”

He added that not all mosquitoes are attracted to light, therefore, a second method is used where the inspectors respond to private complaints at particular properties in the community.

“An inspector will go out into a person’s yard and use themselves as bait for one to two minutes,” Lesser said. “The inspectors will do a count of how many land on them in that period, and a treatment would most likely be performed in the area if at least five land within that two-minute interval.”

According to Lesser, the need for treatment and mosquito spraying varies in the Pines each year and depends on factors such as weather and in what section of the community a person lives.

“It used to be that three-quarters or more of the mosquitoes in Ocean Pines would be in sections 15 and 10, because they are the more southern sections in the community, and as we went more north there would be fewer and fewer, but that has changed,” he said.

According to Lesser, there are many factors that have caused the change, but primarily it is the introduction within the last 10 years of the tiger mosquito. He said the tiger mosquito is attracted to containers, puddles, flowerpots and anything in a person’s yard that will hold the smallest amount of water.

Unlike the Ocean Pines’ native mosquito, which is more attracted to wetlands and tends to stay away from humans, the tiger mosquito has become a large nuisance to many communities because it can closely associate with humans.

“Once it was introduced to any area, it just proliferated and is now the number-one problem species we answer complaints about,” Lesser said.

“Since Ocean Pines is a vacation getaway and retirement community, the tiger mosquito has begun to make more of an appearance during the last 10 years, because people are bringing them in with items that may have been stored somewhere the mosquito would be,” he said.

Mosquito spraying must be done carefully. Consideration must include the wind and its direction to avoid contaminating delicate environments.

The schedule, if the mosquito count reaches the required level for spraying, is as follows; on the Monday following the decision to conduct the spraying, the process would begin in sections 10, 15A, 15B, 16 and 17, that Tuesday would be sections 11, 14A, 14B, 14C, 14D, 18 and 19, on Wednesday would be sections 4, 9, 12 and 13, that Thursday would be sections 1, 2, 3 and 7 and the Friday would be sections 5, 6 and 8.

For more information, call the OPA at 410-641-7717.