CITY BEGINS FLUSHING MOSQUITO-INFESTED SEWERS BUT WON’T TAKE 311 CALLS

Residents on 84th Street between West End Avenue and Riverside Drive have been plagued by mosquitoes for more than a year. The city did just about nothing when they complained, until West Side Rag reporter Leonora Desar wrote about the problem and Assemblyman Linda Rosenthal got involved.

In the meantime, some residents have been sleeping under mosquito nets, and others have had severe allergic reaction to the point where they have to go to the hospital.

Recently, there’s been some movement to fix the underlying problem. The Department of Environmental Protection is flushing the local sewer lines, where the nasty critters have been living and breeding, twice a week for six weeks. That, Rosenthal hopes, will force the mosquitoes out of the neighborhood.

But Rosenthal’s concerned that the mosquitoes have spread beyond 84th Street, because her office has received more than 60 complaints from throughout the neighborhood. Unfortunately, the mosquito infestation has become hard to track because the city won’t accept many of the complainants’ 311 calls unless they are reporting a problem with standing water that could lead to West Nile Virus. Instead, the 311 operators tell people to hire their own exterminators or call their building management, and they don’t take down a complaint (that’s what happened to me, and numerous others who have called). Because they don’t take down complaints, it’s hard to know how far the infestation has spread.

“That’s counter to Bloomberg’s idea of taking down every [complaint],” Rosenthal told us. “We can’t know the full extent until 311 accepts complaints.”

“It’s the city’s responsibility to take care of this, especially with people sleeping under mosquito nets.”

Owly ImagesThe other problem is that the mosquitoes have been emerging through holes in the ground that residents said went unfixed for weeks. The city has blamed Con Edison for allowing sinkholes to open in the pavement after the company did work there earlier this year. Con Ed, which doesn’t agree that the holes are their fault, has recently repaired two sinkholes that were near two of its service boxes, said Con Ed spokesman Allan Drury. And the company is looking to do some more paving.

(The photo at left of some recent hole-patching on the block was sent to us by local resident Howard Freeman.)

In the meantime, let us know if you’re still getting bitten! If we get enough info, maybe we can create a map.

NEWS | 18 comments | permalink
    1. Amazing story, Avi! An urban wildlife species most of us prefer not to encounter. Poor 84th Street residents.

    2. West 60th says:

      Two weeks ago, while walking from Columbus Circle down West 60th to Amsterdam, I was eaten alive. I have also been woken up by mosquitos biting since mid-July (W60th & Amsterdam).

    3. Lexi says:

      My boyfriend and I have noticed them buzzing around the house for the past week or so (we’re on 88th and Central Park West). This morning I woke up with an enormous dime-sized inflamed welt on my neck. It was then that he told me he had read this article a few days ago… I really hope I’m not having a severe allergic reaction…

    4. jenna says:

      I’m at 88th and broadway and have had a mosquito or two buzzing around my bedroom for at least a month now. In fact I just killed one 10 minutes ago, which led to this google search to figure out why on earth I had a mosquito infestation in December. This is simply unacceptable!!!

    5. Believe it or not, we are still killing mosquitos in our apartment, now into January. The lack of sustained cold is one cause. Another is that they have bred in the sewers and have still not been fully flushed out. Will be calling the Health Department tomorrow.

    6. Joanne says:

      We are on West 93rd between Columbus and Amsterdam and have had a mosquito problem on and off for three years. Today is January 7, warm like it was yesterday after the week of cold, and my kids woke up today with bites. At least I’ve finally learned to stop panicking that we’ve got bed bugs, but we’ve never had a problem in January before. The windows are taped up, we can’t figure out how they’re getting in, but we were seeing them buzzing around in early December.

    7. 97th street resident says:

      I live up at 97th street and I was bitten by a mosquito 6 times in one evening this week. We got the sucker the next day, but it’s January! How is this happening?

    8. Philip Perez says:

      i have over thirty bites from the past month. 76th and Broadway may be far away, but we are still affected down here.

    9. Beatrice says:

      The invasion has now moved down to West 75 th Street. We are between CPW and Columbus. The mosquitos first appeared in November. Since then they have totally invaded our building. Tenants have purchased all sorts of repelents
      The tenant association sent an email to all tenants advising them to contact Linda Rosenthal’s office.

    10. Zoe says:

      Been dealing with horrible bites since late February/early March. Live on 71st Street and noticed that there is work being done on 71 and Columbus, so perhaps this is the cause for the recent uptick in bites we are getting? It’s truly miserable – we are itchy, tired (from waking up itching) and sick of wearing bug spray to bed! Any thoughts/recommendations on who to contact to help deal with this?

    11. Cath says:

      West 75th btw CPW and Columbus. First had mosquitoes in November but since a month it became daily… really annoying. Seems like our apt (top floor) is the most affected in the building. Will I get back my normal nights??

    12. Jennifer says:

      My friends and I were on 107th and West End this past Friday. 2 out of 3 of us gotten bitten. My entire leg is covered in huge welts, 3 days later. My friend’s back is also covered with bites. I’ve never been this affected by mosquito bites before!

    13. DK says:

      I live in the west village and noticed some intensifying problems here as well.

      Last summer I was able to leave the window open and literally no problems whatsoever. This August, I’m getting eaten alive. So I’m forced to close the window and use the AC all day long.

      Also, in Sept. I was walking cross town to the East Village wearing shorts and by the time I got to my destination, my legs were covered with bites (that weren’t there before).

      My question is has this been a problem citywide? Anyone in the East/West Village experiencing these problems?

    14. Dee G says:

      While walking in Riverside Park from 103rd St – 110th yesterday three of us were bitten repeatedly. Aaaargh!

    15. Ken says:

      Mosquitoes remain out of control on the UWS. They attack you sitting on your balcony [this is a new ‘feature’ in the last two years] and even this late in the season, it is impossible to stand in the West Side Community Garden on 90th between Columbus and Amsterdam and, absent a DEET application, not see half a dozen of them attached to your legs. The spraying done by the City several weeks ago produced no noticeable reduction in number of mosquitoes.

    16. J Ellenson says:

      On CPW and 85th, we encountered quite a voracious mosquito the other night. Small, silent and deadly. My daughter got 4 bites on her leg and waist, and I got two, one on each arm, before I killed it. Not exactly an infestation but certainly a problem.

    17. irene parikhal says:

      They need to spray under the west side highway where huge pools of water collect for days after every rain. The recent spraying didn’t go west of West End Ave and unless the holes are filled in they are perfect spawning pools for mosquitoes. How do we get the city to respond?

    18. West 84 says:

      I killed already 5 mosquitoes in my apartment! I have been attacked by the mosquitoes since a week now and every single night I have been fighting with them!