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Heavy rain affecting crops and bugs

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Enough is enough. That's what local farmers have to say about all this rain we've seen.

The heavy downpours over the last two weeks have destroyed their crops.

"I just hope everything will get better and it will quit raining one of these days...maybe," Pitt County farmer, Robert Halstead said.

That's the general consensus among farmers across the east. Excessive rain and winds are causing a huge set-back, especially for wheat and tobacco farmers.

"The rain is mashing it into the ground. It's knocking it onto the ground so I'm afraid that the wheat that's in the field is going to be very poor quality," said Pitt County farmer, Chris Stancill.

Farmers at "Stancill Farms" in Ayden took cell phone video of their fields just last week. It shows ditches overflowing.

"You got ditches in the field but if the ditches can't empty, the water can't go nowhere. It's just going to stay there so it's something that we're going to have to ride out," said Halstead.

And the heavy equipment and thick mud aren't exactly friends.

"You can't get in the fields to apply your fertilizer to the crops, you can't get your weed herbicides out onto the crops so you got a weed issue, not just the crops drowning, the crops are obviously drowning from too much water," said Stancill.

As for the economic toll the weather is taking…

"With the investment that farmers have now, with the type of equipment that we use and the increase in prices on fertilizers, it's going to be devastating," said Halstead.

"A lot of the older farmers told me when I was growing up that you're only 5 days away from a flood and 10 days away from a drought so you have to be ready for either one," said Stancill.

The rain isn't just affecting crops, it's affecting the bugs too! Particularly, mosquitoes.

The rain is bringing out a bigger, more aggressive breed.

They're going to be on the flight, they're going to be on the wing and they are and they can ....they hurt. The big ones hurt. The little ones just aggravate you but the big ones hurt," said James Gardner, laughing.

Gardner is the Vector Control manager for Pitt County. A lot of people know him as "the mosquito guy."

It's not an easy job. He's responsible for collecting and identifying the dozens of species here in the east. The rain has put a temporary halt on spraying for the bugs, even so, Gardner says spraying only does so much good.

"Once they come out and they're flying, the mosquito sprayer only kills those that it hits so it's a whole lot easier to handle them while they're in the water," said Gardner.

When it's time to take matters into your own hands, how can you fight the bite?


  1. Dress Appropriately: if you can, wear long sleeves at dusk and dawn.
  2. Get rid of standing water: that includes changing water in pet bowls and bird baths at least once a week.
  3. Use insect repellant.

"They're there. They're going to be there, particularly until we dry out," said Gardner.

Also, beware of west-Nile virus. Chances of getting the virus are usually relatively low, but last year there was active case in Pitt County.

"So far it has not been isolated in any of the flocks this year. I would expect though that it may. And the thing is though, it's hard to say, it's really almost impossible to say what the risk of it is. The risk is there. The virus hasn't died off and gone away," said Gardner.

Follow those steps and Gardner says you're on your way to being a "Skeeter Defeater"

For more information about mosquitoes or West Nile Virus contact your local health department or the NC Public Health Pest Management Section at (919) –733-6407. You may also view Public Health Pest Management's website at www.deh.enr.state.nc.us.

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