TimesOC: Can a drone put an end to our terrible mosquito problem in O.C.?

"Sign up for our TimesOC newsletter" and the L.A. Times logo over the Huntington Beach Pier at sunset.
TimesOC, a newsletter about Orange County, is published Wednesdays and Fridays.
(Los Angeles Times)
Share via

Good morning and welcome to the TimesOC newsletter.

It’s Friday, Sept. 10. I’m Ben Brazil, bringing you the latest roundup of Orange County news and events.

Most things are controversial these days, but one thing is not up for debate: mosquitoes.

Everybody hates them.

Unfortunately, mosquitoes seem to be everywhere in Orange County. Like me, maybe you’ve had to sweat through wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants throughout the summer just to shield yourself from the onslaught of bites.


Luckily, the Orange County Vector Control is using a drone to destroy mosquito larvae. Reporter Sara Cardine wrote this week that drones are the latest weapon the vector control is using to control the mosquito population in the county. Mosquitoes can carry deadly diseases like West Nile virus.

Cardine said the district began using the drones in 2019, initially utilizing them for surveillance. Now, the drone carries a metal cannister filled with VectoBac GS, a bacteria that kills mosquitoes before they can grow up into tiny vampires.

The drone is used at Huntington Beach’s Harriett Wieder Regional Park, Costa Mesa’s Fairview wetlands, the San Joaquin Marsh near UC Irvine and water-recycling basins in Santa Margarita.

“The technology allows us a more efficient way and more environmentally sensitive way to provide that same application without having to go into brush or disrupt any habitat,” district spokeswoman Lora Young told Cardine. “With the drone, we can fly overhead and treat all the water sources we see.”

Young said the mosquito season, running from March to October or November, is pretty quiet, and it’s looking like there will be less risk of the spread of West Nile virus. So far, 22 mosquito samples have tested positive for West Nile virus.

However, the number of Aedes aegypti mosquitos, the mosquitoes you see during the day with white markings on their legs, continues to increase. So don’t let standing water collect near your homes.

Drone operators John Savage, right, and John Drake fill a drone with VectoBac GS at Harriett Wieder Regional Park.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)


When it opened 100 years ago, the two-story Tustin High School served just 75 students and was surrounded by the now nearly extinct orange groves of Orange County. Today, the school serves more than 2,200 kids on 38 acres of land. In preparation for its centennial, a task force has been planning a celebration for the school over the last year, which will take place during three major events, beginning on Friday with a Homecoming football game against Mission Viejo’s Trabuco Hills. TimesOC

Local entrepreneurs are getting some help from OC MADE, a four-week course that trains novice business people on packaging, production, branding and marketing. When students graduate, they will be given a vendor booth at the Original O.C. Swap Meet at the fairgrounds in Costa Mesa. “This is their first step to validating their business and, as they graduate, validating their products — it’s the beginning of the journey,” program director Manal Richa said. “By week five, they’re at the launch with products that are packaged and labelled, and they’re ready to accept payment in a live market.” Daily Pilot

For much of the pandemic, Vietnam’s response to the health crisis was touted as one of the best. The country was spared from the worst of the virus. Then came the Delta variant. Since then, Vietnam’s case count has risen from less than 3,000 to more than 560,000. Two Orange County nonprofits are working to help the ailing country with health supplies and outreach. They hope their efforts can help make a positive impact in the country. But vaccines are the most needed supply right now in Vietnam. “The area is so infectious that even if you use traditional quarantining and tracing of the people who are affected, it’s impossible to stop, unless you have vaccines,” said Quynh Kieu, who founded the Fountain Valley-based Project Vietnam Foundation. “Vietnam has few vaccines.” TimesOC

With wildfires raging in the north and heat waves to the south, California is feeling the effects of climate change. As California begins exploring ways to become carbon neutral by 2035, cities are faced with quickly adopting their own climate action plans to help the state achieve its goal. Santa Ana this week approved a resolution aimed at combating climate change, committing to 100% clean and renewable energy usage by 2045. The city is just one of several in Orange County that are working to curb greenhouse gas emissions. TimesOC


The Angels are opposing a request from federal prosecutors for more documents regarding the much-publicized overdose death of Tyler Skaggs. The request comes two months before the trial of former communications director Erik Kay for allegedly conspiring to “posses with the intent to distribute” fentanyl. Prosecutors subpoenaed the team in July for more documents, and the team handed over two declarations and a log listing documents the team intends to keep private. Prosecutors were not happy with the lack of documents and attacked the team’s response. L.A. Times

Here’s a roundup of high school sports in Orange County from this week. The recap includes the Estancia High boys’ water polo team taking out Fountain Valley and Costa Mesa girls’ golf laid waste to Calvary Chapel. Daily Pilot


Unfortunately for a lot of folks who like to frequent Thousand Steps Beach in Laguna Beach, they won’t be able to get access to the beach as the county conducts major repairs on the stairway for the next 10 weeks. Thousand Steps is a popular spot, but the narrow staircase is all the more difficult to maneuver with broken steps, chipped concrete and exposed rebar. Luckily, only one injury has been reported in the last couple years. Daily Pilot

A new restaurant could be coming to the Huntington Beach Pier. The City Council this week voted to support an agreement with Surf City Partners, which is proposing Huntington’s Restaurant as a “locals” eatery with comfort food, outdoor dining and live music. However, this is bad news for fans of Ruby’s Diner, which had closed down its iconic restaurant at the end of the pier earlier this year. The diner was hoping to return to the pier with a takeout menu. Council members favored Surf City Partners’ vision. Daily Pilot

Many consider tacos to be the best meat delivery vehicle next to bread. And if you like tacos, you’ll probably want to visit Taqueria De Anda, which serves authentic Mexican tacos at 12 locations in Orange County. Though the restaurant now has 12 locations in Orange County and will soon open a 13th in Huntington Beach, it was born of humble beginnings in a taco cart. Through the decades, the De Anda family has perfected its taco recipes. “The growth came little by little,” Jaime De Anda said. “If we find a good location, then we jump on it.” TimesOC


With Sept. 10 being Suicide Prevention Day, Ronnetta Johnson, chief executive officer of Waymakers in Orange County, wrote about the importance of raising awareness about mental health and the importance of asking for help. The pandemic caused many to develop depression and anxiety, and many others had their conditions worsened. Johnson said that the rate of young people committing suicide also rose last year. She mentioned several ways that people can play a role in preventing suicide. Daily Pilot

Irvine Mayor Farrah Khan wrote about a host of Orange County mayors who have united to urge residents to vote no on the recall of Gov. Gavin Newsom. “Disagreements are common in politics, but this recall effort thwarts the will of the voters and only favors a vocal minority,” she wrote. Daily Pilot

Question of the Week

Orange County is a big, diverse community with a bustling entertainment and tourist industry. Yet the county has major hurdles to overcome — homelessness, climate change, political corruption and law enforcement misconduct. Oh, and a pandemic. We want to hear your opinions on these subjects!

Each week, we’ll ask you a new question and post some of the answers in the following newsletter.

Last week, we asked you: Should Orange County be doing more to protect Asian, Latino and lower-income people from COVID-19? Why or why not?

The only response we got this week was from Gene:

“Why would anyone take such a chance with this potentially deadly virus? Wear a mask!” — Gene

Now for this week’s question (please keep your answer to 75 words or less):

How have you been affected by mosquitoes this summer?

Send your answer to Ben at benjamin.brazil@latimes.com.

Stay in Touch

If you have a memory or story about Orange County, we would love to read it (please keep your story to 100 words or less).

We want your help in making this the best newsletter it can be. Send any tips or comments to benjamin.brazil@latimes.com or carol.cormaci@latimes.com.

Keep up with community news on our Orange County page. Follow us on Twitter at @timesocofficial.

Did someone forward you this? Sign up here to get the TimesOC newsletter in your inbox, or invite a friend or family member to join.