More than 2,000 tires are on the way to a recycling facility following a massive collection on Wednesday.
The event organized by Penn State Extension happens annually at the Lebanon County Fairgrounds. Municipalities across the county set aside funding which allows most residents to dispose of tires at no cost or a small fee.
While residents benefit from low-cost disposal, the primary purpose is to eliminate potential habitat for breeding mosquitoes.
“If you have tires laying outside in your yard, the tire will collect water and there is no way to dump it out,” said Olivia Bingeman, who heads up the extension’s mosquito-borne disease program. “It just kind of gets nasty in there. That’s the kind of water that mosquitoes like.”
Bingeman says while the majority of mosquito monitoring focuses on larger populations around retention pond areas, tires present a different concern.
“Tires are really good habitat for the kind of mosquito that’s called an Asian tiger mosquito,” Bingeman said. “They’re the ones that have the ability to transmit Zika virus, and they’re the ones that are going to bite you during the day. The ones that will transmit West Nile like to go in those retention basins and they will bite you at night.”
While the countywide tire collection happens once annually, Bingeman says residents wishing to dispose of tires should contact their trash collection company to see if there is a cost.
For those who cannot afford removal of tires, Bingeman suggests drilling holes in tires to allow water to drain, or to treat them periodically with pesticides to kill mosquito larvae.