Tulsa Is A Very Itchy City

Tuesday, August 31st 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Tulsa is bursting at the seams with critters
and plants that make people scratch, itch and chafe, according to a
pharmaceutical maker that has ranked Oklahoma's second largest city
as the sixth itchiest in the United States.
In fact, there is so much poison ivy, chiggers, mosquitoes,
ragweed and rash-causing catalpa trees in Tulsa that many residents
find it hard to believe there are five other cities in the nation
that are worse off, officials said.
"You mean we're not No. 1?" a senior official at the Oxley
Nature Center exclaimed.
"Tulsa happens to fall in the middle of all the biology
zones," said Donna Horton, senior staff naturalist at Oxley. The
region lies far enough south to get chiggers, far enough north to
have poison ivy and far enough east to attract lots of mosquitoes.
"You get the idea," Ms. Horton said. "We get everything
The pharmaceutical firm B.F. Ascher & Co. compiled the itchy
list based on per-capita sales of its Itch-X anti-itching gel. The
company will give the Tulsa Park and Recreation Department more
than 50 tubes of Itch-X to use during outdoor events.
Tulsa is experiencing an unusual mosquito problem this summer.
The City-County Health Department has been spraying every
neighborhood in town at least twice a month.
But the department's mosquito hot line has still logged more
than 4,200 complaints, twice the average number.
Increased media coverage has made the public more aware of the
hot line, said Gary Woodruff, the Health Department's assistant
director. But this spring's heavy rainfall may have caused the
insect population to swell up more than usual, Woodruff said.
The summer months have been dry, but September usually brings
some rainy days, and that means a resurgence in the insect
population, he said.
If that's not bad enough, a new and decidedly vicious breed of
mosquito has been moving into the Tulsa area over the past few
years, he said.
They're called tiger mosquitoes. And they bite more often, cause
bigger welts and itch longer than any other mosquito, he said.
Like another Health Department official said, "the news just
keeps getting worse and worse."