Petrie and team take on Cayman’s relentless pest

| 21/05/2010

(CNS): Experts at the Mosquito Research and Control Unit (MRCU) say they are winning the battle in the islands’ early seasonal mosquito emergence. The outbreak of mosquitoes was a result of short heavy rains in early April before the MRCU could cover the islands’ swamp lands with pellets. Although two or three localised areas in Grand Cayman remain, MRCU Director Dr William Petrie said the problem has been brought largely under control. Despite what people may think, Dr Petrie said, this was a natural issue and not a financial one and the outbreak was not down to budget cuts.

The unexpected heavy mid-April rains accelerated the hatching of mosquito larvae in the swamps across Grand Cayman and the Sister Islands.
“This rain flooded all grasslands and swamps, resulting in the mass breeding of mosquitoes. So we went from having no mosquitoes, to having a serious problem on the three islands,” Dr Petrie explained.
In previous years, MRCU treated the swamps with pellets in May, in anticipation of the June rains. This was done in order to significantly reduce the emergence of the pest. Doing the treatment in April would normally be too early. However, there were heavy rains in April this year before the scheduled treatment was done.
“We would not have treated the swamps in April, as that was before the normal heavy rains. We have to apply thepellets at just the right time, for maximum effect, “Dr Petrie added.
In order to get the numbers down, Petrie said, the MRCU has conducted conventional spraying and ground operations on all three islands.
The mosquito plan has been very active, completing seven aerial spray operations in Grand Cayman since April.  Also in Grand Cayman, 18 ground-fogging operations have been carried out, and the areas identified as having small mosquito populations are being retreated as necessary.
In Cayman Brac, the MRCU has completed 28 ground operations and 14 in Little Cayman.
“We will continue to work around-the-clock to manage the situation, and we will keep the public abreast of all developments,” Dr Petrie said.
These mosquitoes are not related to the dengue-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquito, which breed in standing water in populated areas such as yards and gardens.
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  1. Anonymous says:

    This is not really true !!!

    Due to "overtime cut’s" associated with the CI government financial crisis, staff at MRCU had ceased many mosquito spraying operations from about 4-6 months ago.

    With staff not being given time and a half in lieu for their efforts to spray in the evenings after a regular day’s work; a pilot who arrived from overseas and left after collecting a fat salary who rarely flew either of the two aircraft’s that sat idle at the airport, this is the result. A mosquito outbreak that upset many people acrossthe Grand Cayman including many tourists.

    May I suggest that MRCU and other government department’s spend less money on un-necessary and irrelevant items/projects; including less overseas trips to Las Vegas (amongst other places) for so called meetings/confrences. Please use our money wisely for what it was really intended for. That is, for the betterment of government and the country as a whole.  



    • Unvcivil Servant says:

      Therein lies the problem. MRCU staff should never have been getting paid "overtime" in the first place. Their contracts and job descriptions should have clearly stated that they were required to work unsociable hours. It is part of the job and one should clearly expect to be required to spray after 5pm when accepting the job. This is not just an MRCU problem, it manifests itself throughout the Civil Service, it is yet another entitlement problem.

  2. Reality says:

    The work on the street is that due to budget savings there is one pilot instead of two .. so less trips. Also fogging at dusk has been cut back.  Getting rid of civil servents does have an effect , contrary to what most of the people who post comments seem to think. I hope that members of Cayman Finance are not suffering unduely


  3. Anonymous says:

    i don’t beleive this either… amybe time for an foi request into the recent flight schedules of the plane to see how often it has been out……

  4. Anonymous says:

     It’s simple folks,the problem is in the word"control",not eradicate.MRCU verses MREU,then again we cant really kill them all,what would the bats do for food.We just have to maintain a balance I guess.

  5. Marek says:

    Camana Bay has been terrible for days now, nobody is sitting out doors. Kids are not using the fountain to play. Camana Bay management put out a notice the other day urging everyone to use a spray before venturing out.

    Don’t think I have ever seen it this bad, walking outside for perhaps five minutes yesterday and I got at least ten bites, today was the same.

    Based on all the comments here and everybody I have spoken with this is an island wide problem and much worse than in the past.

    Like other posters, have only seen the plane once in the last month and not seen much of it or the trucks … which I usually always see… for several months.

    Scratching away at Camana Bay…


    • Just because.... says:

      Thought you were talking about Caymana Bay in general and other developments!…then realised you were talking about the Mosquitos (oes)!!!! But what a description!

  6. Anonymous says:

    I read the headline only and thought they had found a way to get rid of big mac……

  7. Tony Montana says:

    Some tourists asked me last weekend if the mosquitoes were always this bad as they didnt see anything about it when they looked up Cayman.  They were covered in bites. 

    Besides the mosquitos, from what they said of their stay I doubt these people will come back.   We are losing Cayman, day by day. 

    Forgetting about the gun crimes, the robberies, mount trashmore which stinks up seven mile beach daily and the fact that we drove ourselves to economic ruin and our leaders dont have the backbone to do anything substantial to rectify the situation.  Even if we forget all that – Cayman just does not seem to be able to get even the smallest things right anymore. 

    Do we want tourists dollars here?

  8. Anonymous says:

    WHERE ARE YOU LIVING THESE PAST WEEKS!!  I don’t know who they interviewed for this story but they are WRONG!  you can’t even go from your house to your car without being eaten alive!  Even the children at school have not been allowed to be outside for recess because the mosquitoes are so bad!  I couldn’t tell you the last time I heard the mosquito plane or truck go by.  I don’t beleive a word this person says!

  9. Anonymous says:

    I can’t believe they are still polluting these islands with TONS of pesticides each year.

    Mosquitos are a VITAL part of our NATURAL ecosystem.  This is why we NEED to get the NATIONAL CONSERVATION BILL passed!  To save endemic mosquitos and their habitats!

    • Cerridwen says:

      Most people recognize that without mosquito control, the only people that would come to the Cayman Islands would be Caymanians.  No tourists.  No hot-shot financial types.  Because nobody would want to live in a cloud ofbiting bugs.  

      In "Founded Upon the Seas", Craton remarks "defeating the mosquito, developing air services, and facilitating land sales were not the only factors involved in attracting tourists and investors."

      But these accomplishments certainly were key in creating the modern society we have in the Cayman Islands today.

  10. Swatta Ebanks says:

    If there is money available then I implore them to drop this mosquito thing and instead set up the FRCU and get those bastard flies before I lose my freaking mind. 

  11. Jingo Jango says:

     I don’t believe you. 

    • Anonymous says:

      I don’t believe this either.  The mosquito problemstarted getting worse way before the rains in April.  The planes used to fly over 2 or 3 times a week.  We’re lucky if we see them twice a month these days.

  12. Anonymous says:

    mosquitoes have been as bad as i can remember …. they are even out during the recent dry winter months….

  13. Anonymous says:

    Wouldn’t clusters of bat boxes make more sense longer term?