MCCI using chickens to detect West Nile virus
By Howell Dennis
CROWLEY – To hear Glenn Stokes, owner of Mosquito Control Contractors Inc. (MCCI), say it, Acadia Parish has been pretty lucky. Acadia has had the fewest number, one, of West Nile indicators of all surrounding Acadiana parishes.
“Lafayette has had five so far, St. Mary has had three, and there have been numerous positive tests in Vermilion,” said Stokes from his Estherwood office. “Lafayette recently had a turkey test positive, that’s the first time I’ve heard of that.”
However modest he may be, it seems apparent that the work of MCCI has at the very least had some contribution to the low number of mosquito problems in the area. His spray trucks, which have doubled in number recently, along with his constant testing across the parish have no doubt been a big help in controlling the mosquito population.
Stokes, however, is quick to point out that any unexpected weather occurrence could drastically change things.
“Things have really been going fantastic down here - knock on wood,” he said with a smile. “However if we go through a spell of bad storms or heaven forbid a hurricane, the mosquito population could shoot up to a dangerous level - what I’m saying is things can change pretty fast.”
If such an occurrence does exist, and the mosquito population increases in size to where Stoke’s trucks can’t cover enough area to compensate for the problem - not to worry. He simply employs a mosquito “air force”.
“So far this year we have been lucky enough not to have required a plane for our spraying,” said Stokes. “However, if things were to get bad, say after a storm,, we lease a plane which can get to those areas, such as rice fields, that we can’t reach with our trucks.”
“Hopefully we won’t require that because in addition to a spike in the mosquito population, if we can avoid using the planes it saves the parish money.”
Speaking of MCCI’s trucks, they have increased their route schedules to seven days a week and MCCI has been maintained their constant testing throughout the parish.
When asked about the seven day spraying his company does, Stokes replied with a smile “Mosquitos don’t take holidays”.
Another tool for testing for mosquitos that Stokes employs are chickens. He has three “sentinel chickens’ placed in Iota, Church Point, and Morse. The chickens cannot be harmed by the virus, however, they can pick up the antibodies that the infected mosquitos carry which is a sign of mosquito breeding in the area.
When speaking with Stokes, his long-term goal is quite clear.
“We hope to get Acadia parish to where they have one of the best mosquito control programs in the state,” he said.