WARREN, Mich. – It looks like a piece of chalk, but it's a tool the city of Warren is using to crack down on the brutal mosquito season.
For weeks, the Department of Public Works has been going to catch basins, sewers -- all 17,500 of them -- and dropping a larvaecide or briquette throughout neighborhoods.
"It's a slow-acting treatment," said Warren Mayor Jim Fouts. "It takes about three months to dissolve in the water of the catch basin, and that chemical will kill any mosquito larva that formed."
After the sewer has been treated, DPW workers mark the location with a pink dot so residents know a treatment has been applied.
Fouts said inspectors will also will look for pools of water in blighted locations or areas where standing water has accumulated, such as pools that haven't been opened. Homeowners will be given a warning and a chance to fix the problem, but could face a $1,000 fine if the water is not taken care of.
"I want Warren residents to be able to enjoy outdoor activities and not worry about the dangers posed by mosquito infestation. This year is of particular concern because of the very heavy rain that this area has encountered in the last several months," Fouts said.
Residents are also encouraged to contact ordinance enforcement if they are aware of vacant homes with pools or other stagnant water, which become breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Ordinance enforcement can be reached online through the city's website or by calling 734-467-3201.
Why are the mosquitoes so bad this year? If you thought Michigan's harsh winter would help the bug season, think again.
"The heavy snowfall left behind lots of water in low-lying areas, which is ideal for mosquitoes to breed," said Howard Russell, a Michigan State University entomologist, and also known as "The Bug Man."
Experts warn the bugs are not only pesky, but potentially deadly.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, West Nile virus is most commonly transmitted to humans by mosquitoes. You can reduce your risk of being infected with WNV by using insect repellent and wearing protective clothing to prevent mosquito bites.