Rural Texas town finds success with mosquito-control program

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by TERESA WOODARD / WFAA

khou.com

Posted on July 17, 2012 at 9:59 AM

BARTONVILLE — You only have to drive a few miles from a new strip shopping center on FM 407 before you suddenly feel like you’re in the country.

"It's kind of a little hidden oasis,” said Bartonville Mayor Ron Robertson. He’s the leader of this rural Denton County ranching community just 10 miles from Lewisville, sandwiched in-between Flower Mound, Argyle, and Roanoke.

There are 1,600 residents in Bartonville, and there are plenty of cattle, geese, sheep, goats, llamas, and horses, too.

“This is Belle, and her baby is Bonnie,” Robertson said, looking inside his barn. “I taught my grandkids to ride on this horse. You sure don’t want them to get sick.”

West Nile virus is a real threat to humans and horses this season. The number of infected people and mosquito pools seems to increase daily.

Many communities have been spraying for weeks, but Bartonville does not. Robertson said his town is doing the same thing it’s done for the last five mosquito seasons.

"We don't spray and we don't have a fogger, because we don't have the staff for that,” he said. “So we give away dunks.”

Mosquito dunks are donut-shaped cakes of larvicide which are placed in standing water to kill mosquito larvae. It’s an important tactic here, because almost every piece of property in Bartonville has a pond or reservoir, which means plenty of opportunity for mosquitoes to grow.

"You just take them out of the case and throw them in,” Robertson, explained.

The mayor put about a dozen of the dunks in his own pond a few weeks ago and said he hasn't seen a mosquito since. "It kills mosquitoes and doesn't let them breed,” he said.

The program costs the town about $3,000 to $4,000 a year.

"You could go spend $15,000 on a spray rig, then put a staff member at $40,000 to $50,000 a year, and have to employ them year-round so they can spray for mosquitoes every now and again,” Robertson said. "Or — buy dunks, put them in a pond, and the problem goes away for the most part.”

E-mail twoodard@wfaa.com

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