Mosquito samples were collected in Brynhyfryd Park and on Fairhaven School property.
By DENISE DICK
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
NILES -- They came wearing boots and raingear, armed with nets and traps.
Their mission: To collect mosquitoes in the city, transport them back to Columbus and examine them to determine if they present a potential health risk.
Officials from the Ohio Department of Health's vector-borne disease program conducting a mosquitoes survey set five traps each in Brynhyfryd Park and on Fairhaven School property Thursday afternoon and collected them Friday morning. Michael Burke, the city's director of environmental health, accompanied the state officials.
Where: The new Niles middle school is to be built in Brynhyfryd Park, which is near a wetlands.
The city's health department requested the survey, which is being done at no cost to the city, after Audrey and George John suggested it.
The Johns, who volunteer at the Niles Historical Society's Thomas House near the school site, listed fears of West Nile Virus and other diseases transmitted by mosquitoes.
Dr. Richard L. Berry and Robert Restifo of ODH will examine the bugs from both sites and determine the species and number of mosquitoes.
Berry said Fairhaven was chosen because it's a school site near a wetlands area.
"There are more mosquitoes here than at the other site," Berry said of Brynhyfryd Park.
The state officials will issue a report within about a week, detailing whether the mosquitoes present merely a nuisance or are potential disease transmitters.
Catching the pests: A mosquito trap resembles a bird feeder. A light and some dry ice attract the bugs to the device and a battery-powered fan sucks them in, trapping them in a net. Berry said the bugs are attracted to carbon dioxide from the dry ice.
The bug busters use what looks like a long-handled ladle to scoop mosquito larva from pools of water, but they didn't find any larva during their Niles expedition.
They placed the nets filled with mosquitoes into coolers of dry ice to freeze the bugs, dumped the dead insects into box lids to sort out other pests, like moths, and used a device to suck the mosquitoes into vials. The vials are returned to the coolers to transport them back to ODH offices in Columbus for closer examination.
Berry said the bugs collected appear to be spring mosquitoes, one of the many species that fall into the nuisance category. ODH's report also will recommend steps for mosquito control.
Possibilities include spraying, which the city does, depositing larvicide to kill mosquito larva and reducing breeding sites for mosquitoes.
A dangerous few: Six of the 63 species of mosquitoes known to be in Ohio can transmit disease. There have been no cases of West Nile Virus in birds, mosquitoes or people in Ohio.
West Nile Virus first occurred in the United States in 1999 in New York City. It spread to all of the New England states and south to North Carolina last year.