Syracuse (WSYR-TV) -- Mosquito season has arrived here in Central New York and counties with EEE hot spots have a new way of tracking mosquitoes and the potentially deadly virus.
Over the next few weeks, health officials will be setting up traps, spreading larvicide and for the first time ever in Oswego County, officials will be tagging mosquitoes for research.
On Wednesday, health officials explained how the process will unfold this summer, from trapping to processing data, to the decision to spray.
“There’s a little light that directs them towards the fan. They get blown down into [a] collection cup and overnight, [a] collection could number into the thousands,” said Richard Petit, with the Onondaga County Health Department.
The process starts with trapping. The mosquitoes are then sorted, counted and identified.
“There's over 70 different species of mosquitoes in New York State. There's only about a dozen of those mosquitoes that are actually of concern that actually can transmit disease to humans,” said Madison County Director of Environmental Health, Geoffery Snyder.
This year, counties won't just be looking for different types of mosquitoes, but mosquitoes painted with a florescent powder. It’s part of Oswego County's new program called “Mark, Release and Recapture.”
To mark the mosquitoes, Oswego County will trap mosquitoes in black boxes and spray the mosquitoes with florescent powder. It will help monitor flight patterns.
Last year, health officials say the virus showed up in Toad Harbor and the town of New Haven within a couple of days of each other. What they learned: The virus seemed to travel more quickly than ever before.
“We're trying to find out why. Is this a fluke? Was it the exception that proved the rule? Or is this something that the virus has evolved and become a bigger problem for us? We don't know,” explained Evan Walsh with the Oswego County Health Department.
All of the information is processed and checked against state and DEC regulations before the county decides to spray the area with insecticide.
Onondaga County’s Director of Environmental Health, Lisa Letteney, says, “There are a lot of factors that go into that decision. It depends if we have virus; how many mosquitoes we found virus in; what types of mosquitoes; are they human biting or just bird biting and what point in the season is it?”
Spraying stifles the population for only two weeks. In the end, health officials say taking precautions to protect yourself - like applying bug spray - is the best way to fight the bite.