‘Skeeters': They’re big. They’re biting.

Dr. Alice Anderson is an expert on mosquito diseases and control. (Photo by Chuck Baldwin)

In eastern North Carolina, they’re most likely called “Skeeters,” but regardless of the name, mosquito populations surge after rains like those brought by Hurricane Irene and the rain expected to hit the area this week. ECU environmental health sciences professor Alice Anderson in the College of Health and Human Performance is an expert on mosquito control and diseases. Below she addresses some common issues related to the pests.

  • What do you recommend as a repellent for people to use while outdoors? I recommend any product with DEET in it.  Children should use DEET products with less than 30% active ingredient.  There are a few others that are helpful, but for an outdoor job or event, DEET products are the standard.
  • Have cases of mosquito-borne diseases increased since Hurricane Irene?
    In North Carolina there have been no cases that we know of in humans this year; however, there is no one keeping surveillance records since the state reorganized some departments and dissolved the Public Health Pest Management Section.  The state health department records human cases, but none have been reported to my knowledge.  Veterinary cases, which sometimes preceed human cases, are reported to the NCDA, but I have not heard anything in that regard this year.  There was a human case of EEE in Virginia since the hurricane.
  • How long does “mosquito season” typically last? Mosquito season in N.C. lasts until late January.  Activity is reduced after continuous temperatures below 50 Degrees F, but many mosquitoes can resume biting if the daytime temperatures rise above that.
  • Is it too late in the season for larvicide spraying to have a large impact now? Larvaciding can continue all year.  There are products that can be placed in wetland areas during the winter that only become activated when there is a thaw of water (90+ day Briquettes) and others that are for shorter term placement.  The key to larvaciding is finding where the mosquitoes breed.  Surveillance and mapping are critical so that larvacides can be placed in locations that have a record of breeding.  Mosquito control professionals use dippers to continually test wet areas throughout the year so that they can map the breeding areas.  Ditches that breed can be treated with 30-day briquettes, or a ditch can be treated right after a flooding rain with granular larvacide. There are many options in a professional larvaciding operation.
  • What tips do you recommend to minimize the backyard from becoming a breeding ground for mosquitoes? Backyards must be CAREFULLY inspected to locate even the smallest water holding objects.  For example, tires are great breeders. Even clogged gutters on houses, tree holes high in trees, a plastic teaspoon, a plastic shutter resting on the ground, can breed mosquitoes in 5-6 days during warm rainy weather.  Some communities in other states have inspectors who can go on citizen’s property and inspect for these breeding sites, helping owners to eliminate them.  In NC this is not allowed, but owners can “tip and toss” EVERYTHING.  Saving rainwater in barrels is a good conservation move, but a SCREEN must be tight and placed on top to keep the barrel from being a mega-breeding site.There is a good site for backyard education on the North Carolina Mosquito and Vector Control Association Website. http://www.ncmvca.org/There is also a great educational game site called “Spot the bloodsuckers” at http://archive.peabody.yale.edu/explore/spot-the-bloodsuckers/index.html




East Carolina Alumni Association hosts alumni tailgate

The East Carolina Alumni Association will host an alumni tailgate before the UAB vs. ECU game  from 1 to 3 p.m. this Saturday, Sept. 24.

The alumni tailgate is held outside Gate 1 of Minges Coliseum and is open to all alumni and Pirates fans. Saturday’s event features buffets catered by CPWs and ARAMARK with Pirate beverages, live entertainment by Scott Mueller ’96, and games and crafts for children.

Tickets for the event will be sold at the registration table and are $10 for Alumni Association members (please bring membership card) and $25 for non-members. Children 12 and under are free.

Fans not attending the tailgate, but who check in on Foursquare and show their status at registration, will receive a complimentary spirit poster and commemorative tailgate cup.

For additional information contact Jennifer Watson, assistant director for Alumni Communications at 252-328-4902, e-mail Jennifer.Watson@PirateAlumni.com or call the East Carolina Alumni Association at 800-ECU-GRAD.



ECU grant to benefit schools in three counties

East Carolina University was awarded a three-year mathematics science partnership grant from the U.S. Department of Education for partnership with local education agencies. The program is funded at nearly $175,000 for three years.

ECU will partner with Beaufort, Craven and Wayne county schools to provide content and professional development for teachers in the K-8 physical sciences. Participating organizations from ECU include the Center for Science, Mathematics and Technology Education and the departments of physics, mathematics, science and instructional technology education.

The partnership welcomes 25 teachers from participating schools to content knowledge sessions held on Saturdays during the school year. Sessions will include hands-on activities, experiments, inquiry-based learning and integrated pedagogical discussions.

After the school year, teachers will form teams for three days of intense work developing a curriculum unit. Teams will teach their units to students attending a five-day session at the ECU Summer Science Camp. After the first year, teacher leaders will be chosen from previous year participants to serve as mentors.

Teacher participants and leaders will earn 84 hours of face-to-face professional development.

Pre- and post-tests of teachers and students will measure content learning outcomes and student achievement. Researchers will examine whether the professional development activities positively impact student achievement when participating teachers return to a regular classroom setting. Testing will track student achievement before and after the teachers’ participation and compare students with others in the same grade level.

Principle investigator of the grant was Dr. Mark Sprague, assistant chair of undergraduate studies and associate professor in ECU’s Department of Physics.   Co-principle investigator Tammy D. Lee, teaching instructor in the ECU College of Education, worked with local educational agencies to craft the proposal.


For additional information, contact Tammy Lee at (252) 328-6736 or leeta@ecu.edu.


Despite Rain, Roadside Cleanup Volunteers Shine

Participants in a cleanup along Charles Boulevard included, left to right, Katelyn Edwards, Sarah Tart, Endia Basden, Camille White, Brandie Tew, Brittany Wilson, Elizabeth Abbott, Ashley Redfern and Asha Thomas.


Gray skies and day-long drizzle did not deter volunteers from joining a roadside cleanup organized by students in East Carolina University’s College of Health and Human Performance Sept. 17.

The students from the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies cleaned a mile-long section of Charles Boulevard, extending from Greenville Boulevard to 10th Street. Wearing safety vests and gloves, all nine volunteers worked several hours to collect plastic bottles, paper and aluminum materials from the roadside.

The students are members of the recreation and leisure student undergraduate society, led by vice president Elizabeth Abbott of Raleigh. Abbott is a recreational therapy major.

“Lending a hand in the Greenville community through service projects is the mission of our society,” Abbott said. “It is also a good opportunity to network with fellow students as well as helping a good cause.”

It was the second time the society participated in the cleanup. They plan to continue the event once a semester.

The group was assisting the Recreation and Leisure Studies’ graduate society, which formally adopted the highway last year.


The cleanup crew worked for several hours despite rainy, drizzly weather.