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Air Force Reserve C-130s, crews begin aerial spraying Southern Louisiana in aftermath of Hurricanes Gustav, Ike

  • Published
  • By Capt. Brent Davis
  • Public Affairs Officer
Two Air Force Reserve C-130s and aircrews from the 910th Airlift Wing began aerial spray missions in Louisiana from here Sept 21.

The aircrews began aerial spraying approximately 80,000 acres of mosquito infested Terrabone and LaFourche Parishes yesterday and plan to complete spraying the parishes this evening.

"The priority was to get to Terrabone and LaFourche parishes as soon as possible because of the significant mosquito infestation there," said Lt. Col. J.D. Williams, mission commander. The folks that repair the power lines just get eaten up by the insects and we're glad to be able to help lessen the chances of contracting West Nile Virus of Encephalitis," he concluded.

Seven additional parishes are awaiting aerial spray relief later this week.

Barksdale AFB was chosen as the base of operations for the aircrews and maintenance personnel because of its proximity to the spray area, ability to handle C-130H aircraft, and ability to support the mission without conflicting with other relief efforts.

The spray crews from Youngstown Air Reserve Station, Ohio, plan to spray southwestern Louisiana, then work other affected areas as required. They are working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Centers for Disease Control and state public health officials to determine locations to spray.

The reservists are targeting primarily mosquitoes and filth flies. These insects are capable of transmitting diseases such as West Nile Virus and various types of Encephalitis. If not controlled, the probability that people will contract these diseases, either in single incidents or in widespread outbreaks increases greatly.

Each aerial spray-modified C-130H is capable of spraying approximately 80,000 acres per day. Spray missions are normally conducted at dusk when the insects are most active.

"The product that will be used to combat the disease-spreading insects will be Dibrom, which is an extremely effective material for mosquito control, and at the amounts that are applied, is an extremely safe material as well. Typically we apply Dibrom at a rate of 1/2 to 1 oz. per acre. When properly applied at these application rates, Dibrom is virtually non-toxic to humans, while eliminating a majority of the flying mosquito population," said Maj. Karl Haagsma, a research entomologist with the 910th AW.

Dibrom is an EPA registered insecticide, and is currently in use for many mosquito control programs throughout the country. Every effort will be made to ensure the public is informed what areas will be sprayed on a daily basis.

The 910th AW is the only unit in the Department of Defense tasked to maintain a full-time, fixed-wing aerial spray capability. Four specially modified C-130H aircraft from the 910th are used to conduct aerial spray missions to control insects, vegetation on military installations, and oil spills.

In 2005, three specially equipped C-130s from the 910th AW sprayed for 38 days, covering 2.8 million acres of Louisiana and Texas in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.