by Paul Harrison
We may all be focused on cicadas, but there’s one insect that we all know is coming and we actually can do something to prepare for – mosquitoes!
I moved to the 3000 block of Albemarle with my wife, seven-year-old son, and my in-laws last August. We were previously Shaw residents for over 15 years, and while you wouldn’t expect a big mosquito problem down in that denser and more-paved part of the city, they were quite a problem. Down there I learned that a big breeding source was under-sidewalk vaults, particularly Pepco’s transformer vaults that serve downtown’s underground power lines. Clogged drains in these vaults leads to hundreds of gallons of fetid standing water, and there’s no easy vector-control hotline to call to get them cleaned. Mosquito heaven.
I didn’t expect to find the same problem in Forest Hills because the transformers are up on poles, not under the ground. But it turns out that there is at least one transformer vault in the neighborhood, at the corner of 32nd and Albemarle where the power comes up from the underground mains serving Connecticut Avenue.
Lo and behold, I looked and saw that they are holding a large volume of standing water.
When I ran into ANC 3F Commissioner Dipa Mehta and mentioned the vaults, she offered to reach out to Pepco to request that the vaults be drained and cleaned.
It’s both well known and just common sense that eliminating or managing standing water is essential to reduce mosquitos’ numbers, so I also did a walk around my property to look for standing water. I drained out a couple of empty flowerpots, and installed a mesh screen over a drain in our yard that seems to be designed to always contain an extra quart or so of rainwater.
Hopefully, my story will inspire others to do a walk around their yards to look for even the smallest amount of standing water, as hundreds of mosquitoes can breed in something as small as a bottle cap. If anyone finds a standing water problem that they need help solving, the comments here are a great way to highlight that so others can know and help.