As temperatures begin to warm, it's only a matter of time before mosquitoes return to North Texas, and Fort Worth wants the public to be proactive.
The city detailed its West Nile virus plan last week to the public and this week to the City Council. It calls for targeted ground spraying if mosquitoes carrying the virus are found in abundance in areas of the city.
"So we will treat it as if it's going to be as bad as it was last year and then make adjustments," said Brandon Bennett, code compliance director. "If it's worse, we'll be very progressive and very engaged. And if it's not as bad, then we'll pull back and save the taxpayers some money."
City crews are already finding mosquito larvae in ponds and backyards across the city. It takes just a few days for those larvae to turn into mosquitoes that can carry the virus.
The city has been trapping mosquitoes for two weeks now, but none have tested positive for West Nile virus so far.
In fact, only two of the 21 traps placed at area fire stations Tuesday returned any mosquitoes. The city is placing traps every week at each of the city's 42 fire stations to have a more consistent sampling of mosquitoes.
Despite the plan to trap early and react to the samples, personal protection is the best way to stay safe, Bennett said.
"Nationally and regionally, about 70 percent of the victims last year didn't use repellent," he said. "The vast majority had either used it for a while and stopped or knew they should have been using it and weren't."
Residents should drain standing water or use larvicide doughnuts to rid standing water of any larvae, he said. People also should wear repellent, whether it contains DEET or not.
The city's website has information on alternatives to DEET for those who don't want to use it. They can be found under the "Protect Yourself" section on the right.