Haltom City Public Works, within the division of Environmental Services, manages a mosquito virus surveillance control and abatement program each year in cooperation with the Tarrant County Public Health Department. The program's strategy is to reduce the mosquito larvae numbers through public education, surveillance, source elimination, and biological control.
Public education is an important aspect of the mosquito abatement program. Household items that hold water, such as tires, flower pots, buckets, wheelbarrows, pet dishes, rain gutters, decorative bird baths, and swimming pools are the cause of most of the mosquito issues in a neighborhood.
The City of Haltom City is dedicated in helping the residents identify areas around the household that could be cause of a mosquito issue.
The Texas Department of State Health Services recommends practicing the "Four D's" to help keep family and friends safe from mosquito bites:
- Dusk/Dawn: Stay indoors during dawn and dusk, when mosquitos are most active
- DEET: Use an insect repellent containing DEET
- Dress: Wear long sleeves and pants when outside to protect skin against bites
- Drain: Remove all standing water outside your home or business.
Ways to protect yourself when you are outdoors include:
- Apply insect repellent to exposed skin whenever you plan to be outdoors during mosquito season. Repellents are formulated and sold as aerosols, creams, solids (sticks) and liquids, and their protection may generally be expected up to last six hours following application. The more active ingredient a repellent contains, the longer it can protect you from mosquito bites. A higher percentage of the active ingredient in a repellent does not mean that the protection is better, just that it will last longer.
- Keep repellents away from eyes, nostrils and lips.
- Because repellents may irritate the eyes and mouth, avoid applying repellent to the hands of children.
- Spray clothing with repellents containing permethrin or another EPA-registered repellent since mosquitos may bite through thin clothing.
- Do not apply repellents containing permethrin directly to exposed skin.
- Place mosquito netting over infant carriers when you are outdoors.
Please note: Vitamin B and "ultrasonic" devices are not effective in preventing mosquito bites.
Eliminate Mosquito Breeding Environments
Mosquito control is everyone's responsibility, and effective mosquito control starts with proactive measures at home. The most effective way to control mosquito populations is to find and eliminate their breeding sites.
Tips to prevent mosquito breeding on your property:
- Dispose of tin cans, old tires, buckets, unused plastic swimming pools or other containers that collect and hold water.
- Cover trash containers to keep out rainwater and drill holes in the bottom of any garbage or recycling containers stored outdoors.
- Do not allow water to accumulate for more than two days at the base of flowerpots or in pet dishes.
- Stock ornamental pools with top feeding predacious Gambusia minnows. Known as "mosquito fish," these minnows are about 1 to 1.5 inches in length and feed on mosquito larvae.
- Clean debris from rain gutters and remove any standing water under or around structures, or on flat roofs.
- Check around faucets and air conditioner units and repair leaks.
- Change water in birdbaths and wading pools at least once a week.
- Keep windows, doors and porches tightly screened to keep mosquitos out.
- Fill or drain puddles, ditches and swampy areas, and either remove, drain or fill tree holes and stumps with mortar.
- Cut down weeds adjacent to the house foundation and mow the lawn regularly to eliminate the places adult mosquitos prefer to rest.
- Eliminate seepage from cisterns, cesspools and septic tanks.
- Eliminate standing water around animal watering troughs.
- Irrigate lawns and gardens carefully to prevent water from standing for several days.
- Citronella products have been reported to combat mosquitos in confined areas.
- Consider use of "mosquito dunks," or "Natular DT" biological larvicide treatments to be used in water sources that may foster the breeding of mosquitos. These larvicides prevent larvae from hatching if the label directions are followed, so be sure to read the section on application rates.
Suggested Additional Resources
Mosquitoes That Transmit Harmful Viruses
There are 85 species of mosquitoes found in Texas. Genus Culex is the mosquito that typically carries the West Nile Virus and Saint Louis Encephalitis Virus. The most common species of Culex in North Texas is Culex quinquefasciatus, which is the primary vector of West Nile Virus. Other species that can carry West Nile Virus are Culex restuans and Culex tarsalis, which are also found in North Texas. Aedes is a genus of mosquitoes associated with carrying and transmitting Zika and Chickungunya viruses.
Approximately 80% of people who are infected with mosquito-borne virus will not be affected and will thus not show any symptoms.
Up to 20% of the people who become infected have milder symptoms that can last for as short as a few days, though even healthy people have become sick for several weeks. These symptoms include:
- Body aches
- Swollen lymph glands
- Skin rash on the chest, stomach and back
About 1 in 150 people infected may develop a severe illness. These symptoms may last several weeks, and neurological effects may be permanent. Severe symptoms can include:
- High fever
- Neck stiffness
- Muscle weakness
- Vision loss
The most common symptoms of a Zika virus infection are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week after being bitten by an infected mosquito. Zika Virus infection during pregnancy can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly, as well as other severe fetal brain defects. Pregnant women should consult with their health care provider if they decide to travel.
For more information on Zika virus, visit the CDC Zika Virus website.
Things to Do if You Think You Have Mosquito-Borne Virus
Contact your doctor. There is no specific treatment or vaccine currently available for mosquito-transmitted diseases. In cases with milder symptoms, people experience symptoms such as fever and aches that pass on their own, although even healthy people have become sick for several weeks. In more severe cases, people usually need to go to the hospital, where they can receive supportive treatment, including intravenous fluids, help with breathing and nursing care. Pregnant women and nursing mothers are especially encouraged to talk to their doctor if they develop virus-like symptoms.
Mosquito-transmitted viruses can only be confirmed by a doctor. Haltom City will report confirmed cases of the virus upon notification by the Tarrant County Public Health Department
The city conducts mosquito surveillance, which consists of early monitoring every spring and regular monitoring throughout the summer and/or from the beginning until the end of the mosquito season.
Monitoring, Testing & Notifications
Haltom City's role begins when the Tarrant County Public Health Department Mosquito Monitoring Program initiates. Trapping activities are conducted throughout the primary mosquito. During this time frame, five stationary traps per week are set. Collected samples are delivered to the Tarrant County Public Health Department's lab for West Nile Virus and Saint Louis Encephalitis Virus testing. There is no testing for Zika virus, or other viruses that are known to be imported, offered by the Tarrant County Public Health Department at this moment. Presence of imported viruses in local areas are confirmed by a positive human case.
If any mosquito trapped within the Haltom City limits tests positive for West Nile Virus or Saint Louis Encephalitis Virus, or if the city is notified of any confirmed human cases that have been transmitted locally (signifying its presence in the local mosquito population), notification will be posted on here on the city's website and social media accounts. Also, targeted ULV fogging will most likely occur, and the area will be investigated to see if additional measures are needed.
- Includes trapping and testing of mosquitoes for viruses
- Provides monitoring of naturally existing environmental habitats (creeks, flood plains, ponds, etc.) and man-made environments. Additional inspections are conducted in response to phone calls, emails and other alerts from the public.
- Includes treatment of areas found to contain mosquito larvae with larvicides and/or mosquito fish.
- Haltom City uses mosquito fish as a biocontrol agent, a predatory fish that feeds on mosquito larvae. Additionally, the city utilizes larvicides...the biological insecticides that kill larvae.
Abatement Options Utilized by Haltom City
Haltom City has different options, dependent on the area being treated:
Large Area Treatment for Mosquito Larva
The turbine air sprayer has a vertical spray reach of up to 125 feet and horizontal reach up to 450 feet and can discreetly and unobtrusively deliver larvicide treatments into hard to reach cryptic breeding sites of residential backyards, around construction sites, cemeteries and more. The system has been designed to allow for an application speed of 15 mph, much like that of traditional adulticide ULV applications. This piece of equipment will be utilized as part of a phased response to manage viruses of concern (mainly the West Nile Virus) at low levels in City.
Use of this equipment is not meant to replace the responsibility of any resident in control of any premises in the Haltom City to maintain their property in such a manner that it's allowed to become a nuisance and/or detrimental to the public health and welfare.
This piece of equipment will be utilized as part of a phased response to manage viruses of concern (mainly the West Nile Virus) at low levels in Haltom City.
Proper terminology is ULV (Ultra Low Volume) Fogging, not spraying. When it comes to fogging, the City of Haltom City follows recommendations from the Tarrant County Public Health Department and Professional Mosquito Control Companies. Typically, that recommendation is to spray within a 1/2-mile radius of any trap where a mosquito tests positive for the West Nile Virus or Saint Louis Encephalitis Virus, and typically the City will spray the area 3 consecutive days, weather permitting. We use insecticides that offer low toxicity, low odor, rapid biodegradation and high mosquito mortality. Fogging generally takes place between 9 pm and 5 am while mosquitoes are active and winds are slow.
Download the Safety Data Sheet for DUETS Dual Action Adulticide (PDF).
Safeguards when this device is utilized include:
- The active ingredient (sumithrin) utilized for ULV fogging is commonly found in many household, pet, and livestock spray items.
- Product toxicity is actually much higher in homeowner products available through the feed store or hardware store. Mosquito products available widely for yard applications have from 32 times to 110 times more concentration of active ingredient than the product used for ULV ground fogging.
- If able, pets should be brought indoors or put into a protected area. Outdoor water dishes should be emptied and refilled the next morning.
- Poultry can be placed into henhouses or protected areas and allowed out, after daylight, the following morning
- Homegrown produce grown in the response zone may be rinsed before consumption, but risk of contamination is extremely low.
- The nights of the application, ornamental fish ponds can be covered with tarps or plastic if located close to the roadway the fog trucks will be travelling. Coverings should be removed at daylight the following day.
- Honey bee colonies can be covered after dark on the nights with the covers promptly removed at dawn the following day. This material does not pose an issue for honey bees since the bees are not actively foraging while the application is taking place. As a side note, the material is precisely calibrated in a droplet size to impact an insect with the body mass of a mosquito and the material volatilizes after about five minutes. If some material happens to form residue on the ground or plants, the product is very rapidly degraded when exposed to UV light.
- Filters on air conditioning systems are sufficient to filter the product from the living space or car cabin, so please do not turn off the air systems.
- If you happen to drive behind a fog truck while in the operation of fogging, wait for the truck to pull over and pass promptly with the windows up and the air system on recirculate.
Why Doesn't the City Doesn't Fog the Entire City for Mosquitoes
The City strives to meet budget goals while trying to effectively keep mosquitoes carrying viruses low. To do this the City's integrated Mosquito Virus Surveillance and Abatement Program focuses more on controlling mosquito-borne viruses than just killing adult mosquitoes. The Program consists of public education, surveillance, source reduction, larviciding, and targeted adulticiding.
It is a violation of the city ordinances to keep or maintain items on any property which contain standing water that is conducive to the breeding of mosquitoes. Reported violations are investigated and immediate abatement is required in the event of a confirmed violation. If the violation is not abated as requested, the property owner may be subject to further code enforcement action, including issuance of fines.
To report suspected mosquito breeding sites in Haltom City, please call 817-834-9036 between 8 am and 4:30 pm Monday through Friday, or contact the city's Environmental Services Manager at 817-840-3572 through this online form.