By Andria Kades
MIDGES are Larnaca’s main problem and not mosquitoes although it easy to confuse the two, according to hydrobiology expert Spyros Mourelatos who flew in from Greece to advise the city on how to combat its bug problem.
“Everything the municipality has done so far to combat midges was appropriate. Efforts need to be intensified with similar moves to follow, but I believe in the coming days we will see results,” Mourelatos who came to Cyprus on a pro bono basis said.
Mourelatos was invited by both the state and the municipality’s environment and health departments following long-standing complaints by Larnaca residents over what was believed to be a mosquito infestation particularly near the salt lakes. He had a meeting with authorities on Wednesday to announce his findings and measures that should be taken.
“In Larnaca there are no mosquitoes but midges, and these two should not be mixed up as mosquitoes bite and midges don’t. Larnaca is unlucky to have midges as unfortunately there are no organised programmes on how to fight them in other European countries,” said Mourlatos.
During their meeting, Larnaca mayor Andreas Louroutziatis said that so far they had tried to combat the problem by spraying the area, but the numbers of insects had surged and they were trying other measures.
One of the first steps that will need to move forward, the authorities jointly decided, is to use certain kinds of sprays so as to create a “protective net around salt marshes”. The municipality also decided to look at the problem in the long term as salt lakes, which comprise 30 per cent of the city and are a NATURA area protected by international treaties, “will always be there,” Louroutziatis said.
“In regards to midges, dealing with them is harder on a technical level in terms of expertise, equipment and scale,” Mourlatos said.
Midges are in no way dangerous as opposed to mosquitoes, they are just very annoying, he added.
The environment department will call for tenders for a salt marsh management plan and a study that will consult authorities promptly on the wetland and how to combat the insects before they hatch.
A ministry of health official said “there will be some improvements after different means to fight the insects were taken, that will be seen in the next few days”.