No, that is not an optical illusion. Yes, that helicopter really is flying that low.

Have you seen or heard this in your neighborhood and wondered what was going on?

Well, here's what's going on:

No, it's not police searching for fugitives or air ambulances heading to accident scenes. It's the Ocean County Mosquito Extermination Commission.

I actually just had a great conversation with the Commission's Superintendent, Mike Romanowski, about what exactly is going on, and what it means to us on the ground.

Right now, because of all of the rain that we had in March and so far in April, there are a lot of areas of standing water throughout Ocean County, which is exactly where mosquitoes love to breed.

The Commission is constantly working; inspecting areas of concern and deciding where treatments are needed the most. In fact, because of the rainy weather and some of the early warmth that we've had, they're getting started about a week or two earlier than usual this year.

When they identify areas of concern, they send the chopper out.

Today specifically, they're working in Brick and Toms River, and have even made a few passes near Ocean County College.

I also learned in my conversation with Mike that saying that they're "spraying" is misleading.

They're not spraying an aerosol chemical, but dropping dry, granular pellets.

So if you see one of the helicopters flying nearby, you don't have to worry about inhaling a dangerous pesticide, they're dropping the pellets specifically over areas of standing water, where the mosquito larvae are.

It's a valuable service, as there are over 40 species that they treat for, including about a dozen "nuisance species". We're talking about the serious ones that can carry diseases.

The treatments continue throughout the spring and summer, and can even go as late as the end of October.

It was a really interesting conversation with Mike, and I have to thank him not only for his time, but also his enthusiasm in explaining exactly what the Commission does, and why.

So, the next time you see a helicopter flying very low near your neighborhood, you can thank them when you get through summer relatively unscathed from mosquito bites!


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