NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Millions of bees dying last week in South Carolina after daytime aerial spraying of mosquitos led to widespread concern. Dawn Stover, a researcher at the Stephen F. Austin State University Gardens, believes authorities overreacted.
"I was really devastated by it," Stover said. "The honey bee die-off with the spraying could have been prevented if protocols been followed."
Stover's interest lies in protecting non-target species. Bees are currently her primary interest. She prefers a proactive stance when controlling mosquitos.
"Getting rid of standing water, wearing protective clothing, and spraying when we do have to spray those chemicals following the label to the T," Stover said.
Dr. Sonja Swiger, the state expert on Zika prevention said spraying should be done only at night. She says the first control is ridding areas of small amounts water, the preference for the mosquito that carries Zika.
"Forced reduction of smaller types of water," Stover said. "Cups are things. So when you find trash hanging out or people who just forget. I have four children so we have a tendency to leave things out. We had a ton of mosquitos out in my yard this year."
The distribution of bacteria that kills mosquitos, but doesn't harm people or animals are good for larger bodies of water.
"All I have to do is just place that in the water," Stover said. "It will dissolve over time and when mosquito larvae are in there feeding on things in the water they ingest that bacteria and that's it."
And remember, bees and dragonflies are natural predators of mosquitos. Bats too, said Dr. Chris Comer, a professor of forest wildlife management at SFA.
"And we found every species of bat that we captured had eaten mosquitos in the last hour or so before we captured them, which was pretty cool, so you can say with some justification, yes they are consuming mosquitos," Comer.
Of course, there aren't enough bats to consume all the mosquitos, so humans must follow proper methods of control. Mistakes can destroy the species that are critical to the ecosystem.
Biological mosquito control methods can be found it retail outlets, and they're easy to use. State experts say fogging is also showing good results, but it's critical it be done at night and instructions are carefully followed.