Aerial attack: Tons of insecticide sprayed in Harris County


by Andrew Horansky / KHOU 11 News, Drew Karedes / KHOU 11 News

Posted on August 22, 2012 at 5:45 PM

Updated Wednesday, Aug 22 at 11:02 PM

HOUSTON – Chemicals capable of battling millions of mosquitoes were dropped across 60,000 acres of land Wednesday night in west and northwest Harris County.

Malcolm Williams took off from D.W. Hooks Memorial Airport with a load of an insecticide called Dibrom. It is capable of killing millions of mosquitoes.

Williams used a Piper Aztec, a plane specially-designed for aerial spraying. Dibrom has been approved by the EPA.

“About 85-percent of all mosquito-controlled districts in the country use this,” Williams said.

From 8 p.m. until about 2 a.m., Williams sprayed more than 60,000 acres in the skies over west and northwest Harris County.

“The pesticide will come out and it will break up into 30 micron drops, which is an aerosol,” Williams said. “So an aerosol just kind of drifts in the wind; it never really settles down to the ground.”

Williams needed to refill five times before the night was over. All the while, a computer aboard his plane prevented him from spraying the same place twice.

“It shows on a display where I’ve already sprayed,” he said. “It won’t let me go back and spray again.”

For Williams, it really is a life-and-death mission.

“People’s health is involved,” he said.

People living nearby anxiously waited for the spraying. For many, it had been a rough summer for mosquitoes.

“You can’t go out in the morning because they’ll eat you alive,” one woman said. “You can’t go out at night because they’re swarming.”

Williams said it is critical to spray at night because that is when the most mosquitoes are out.

Other residents expressed health concerns.

Aleida Chavez  said she was worried about the effects of the spraying on her infant.

“I’m worried about what the altercations are going to be because of it, but if they’re here I don’t want them here,” she said.

Harris County advised residents in the targeted areas to stay inside and keep their pets inside, as well.