Due to mosquito-friendly conditions, fly-over spraying was used in southeast Lake County for the first time since 2010.
A dual-engine plane flying about 200 feet off the ground last week sprayed pesticide over a 25-square-mile area that included Highland Park, Highwood, Bannockburn, Deerfield and Riverwoods.
Recent rainy weather coupled with consistently warm temperatures has provided the perfect breeding ground for "nuisance" mosquitoes — which "tend to not be very good carriers of West Nile virus," said Laura McGowan, spokeswoman for Clarke, the environmental firm contracted by the Southlake Mosquito Abatement District.
"They're ravenous biters; they're really nasty," McGowan said. "When you've got them in the populations we've got now, you've got to do something before it becomes a quality of life (issue.)"
McGowan said the procedure is safe, and residents didn't need to take shelter or any precautions.
But Highland Park City Councilwoman Kim Stone wasn't so sure.
"When you're spraying over a 25-mile area and you're spraying over my house and my organic vegetable garden or someone's backyard chickens, I am concerned," Stone said. "Where are my property rights to not be sprayed with this stuff?"
Stone also was concerned by the Mosquito Abatement District's method of alerting the public about the spray — or lack thereof. The spraying took place on July 11, but by the afternoon before, there was no information on the district's website. When Stone spoke with a representative, she said she was told the taxing body doesn't "do press releases," but alerted local municipal leaders.
District President Larry Feder said people interested in learning when spraying will occur can find an 800 number on the agency's website to call and then dictate their email address for inclusion on a notification list. He said he didn't realize the latest spraying information was not on the website,
"That's a good question. It's a good point. It can be added," Feder said. "It's not an up-to-the-minute thing, but that's a good suggestion."
The information was later added on July 10.
Stone said she researched the pesticide product — called DUET — and noted that it is considered safe by the Environmental Protection Agency, but that she contacted local park district officials and requested it cover its drinking fountains. The product label recommends people "cover any exposed drinking water, drinking water fountains and animal feed before application."
McGowan said human drinking fountains are not the intended target of the warning, since they do not contain standing water.
"Drinking fountains have nothing to do with it unless you have a livestock watering trough or something like that," McGowan said.
For more information about the Southlake Mosquito Abatement District, see its website at slmad.org.