AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — With recent rainfalls, come an increase in mosquitos, and the City of Amarillo is doing what it can to stop the overpopulation of the insect.
Amarillo Environmental Health Director, Anthony Spanel said mosquitos start showing up in March and are around until September or October.
He said the city is out treating every single day, spraying pre-treatment and larvacide chemicals to help prevent the growth of the insects.
Spanel said there are several ways to prevent mosquitos.
“What we are asking for is help on the residential side. So, if people can take a look at their backyards, if they see any stagnant water, or standing water toss that out every day or three to five days and help mosquitos from growing,” said Spanel.
He added they activate the adulticide program when the mosquito population starts to really get out of control.
On top of the city treating for mosquitos, they also are partnering with Amarillo College to test mosquitoes for the arbovirus detection system as part of the Texas Health Department.
“We were able to get a group of students and they went out and collected the mosquitos themselves and brought them back into the lab. We identified them to species and then extracted out nucleic acids,” said Jacob Price, assistant professor of biological sciences at Amarillo College.
Price added this was a part of a special research project that students were a part of and he said they used techniques that you would use if they worked in a biotech lab.
Price said they were able to use cutting-edge technology at the college called a PCR machine to look at the genetic makeup of the mosquitoes when it pertains to viruses commonly spread by mosquitoes such as West Nile, equine encephalitis, and St. Louis encephalitis which he said is found in the area.
“Now fortunately for us and our small sample, we did not identify any of those viruses in our collection and that data goes down to Austin as part of their system for the entire state of Texas,” said Price.
Price said that the Amarillo Department of Enivormnetal Health uses the data that Amarillo College collects to adjust their treatments for mosquitoes around the city. He said with this data, they were able to tell them what kinds of mosquitoes they found, how many they found, and their location.
Price added collaboration like this allows students to get real-world experience and make connections in industry and research.