Mosquito Trucks And Pied Pipers

In the 60s, kids would race after noisy mosquito trucks and frolick in thick clouds of sweet-smelling pesticide.   Like a Pied Piper, an old pick-up would appear in a neighborhood and spray big white puffs that would make children want to jump in and magically disappear.   

I was one of them.  I remember the thrill. And the strong perfume.   

And then, suddenly, the trucks disappeared.  (Though a handful of You Tube videos show children in Korea foolishly running through fog that we used to enjoy and now know better. Watch the video at - it's shocking.

With the emergence of the deadly West Nile Virus mosquito in the U.S., the trucks are back.  But now, people are warned to stay inside.  They are asked to shut their windows.   

Last week, Burlco Mosquito Control crews sprayed neighborhoods in Maple Shade and Palmyra after West Nile Virus mosquitos were found in nearby traps.  The traps are scattered throughout the county to monitor the pest.  Recently a dead blue jay was discovered carrying the mosquito-transmitted virus. 

There were no fluffy clouds coming from the noisy Burlco trucks - just streams of white mist that glowed in the night.  (Watch a video of one of the trucks, driven by Ed Twyman, as it sprays a Maple Shade neighborhood near the Sewer Treatment Plant. It's definitely toned down from the scene in Korea.)

Twyman, an inspector, said Mosquito Control uses "Scourge," to kill the pest.  It's been found effective and safer than the pesticides used in the past. 

I don't know if DDT was used in the '60s, but that was a widely-used insect-killer back then. Our parents didn't know the mist could be hazardous and DDT was still on the market.  The strange fog was oddly enticing and a didn't come with any advisory.  (See a "kids love pesticide" video on You-Tube that sort of captures it:

Somehow we didn't grow two heads.

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