An Air Force Reserve C-130 Hercules and 10 reservists from the 910th Airlift Wing began aerial spray missions in Louisiana September 22nd. Starting with southwestern Louisiana, the spray crews from Youngstown Air Reserve Station, Ohio, will then work on other affected areas as required.
Barksdale Air Force Base was chosen as the base of operations for the aircrews and maintenance personnel due to its proximity to the spray area, ability to handle C-130H aircraft, and ability to support the missions without conflicting with other relief efforts.
The spray crews are working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Centers for Disease Control and state public health officials to determine locations to spray. Each aerial spray modified C-130H is capable of spraying about 80,000 acres per day. Spray missions are normally conducted at dusk when the insects are most active.
The reservists are mainly targeting mosquitoes and filth flies, which are capable of transmitting diseases such as West Nile Virus and various types of Encephalitis. The probability that people will contract these diseases, whether in single incidents or widespread outbreaks, increases greatly if they are not controlled.
Said Maj. Karl Haagsma, a research entomologist with the 910th AW, “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.”
Dibrom is an EPA registered insecticide, currently in use for many mosquito control programs throughout the country.
The 910th AW is the only unit in the Department of Defense tasked to maintain a full time, fixed wing aerial spray capability. In 2005, three of its specially equipped C-130s sprayed for 38 days, covering 2.8 million acres of Louisiana and Texas in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.