Mosquito master

Carnard Chapman checks an empty mosquito trap at Palmetto Islands County Park. Chapman is a member of Charleston County's mosquito control team. 'I would say that mosquitoes can't fight back, but they'll have you running back into your truck,' he said.

Dipper in hand, Carnard Chapman is looking for mosquitoes.

As a member of Charleston County's mosquito control team, he walks around Palmetto Islands County Park, hitting trees with the cup attached to the end of a stick. He hopes these taps will knock loose any lingering pests, but to no avail.

Mosquitoes need standing water to thrive, and this year's high summer temperatures make recent rainwater evaporate quickly. He counts few mosquitoes during his check.

He also touts mosquito control's vigilance in the fight against the insects, pointing to mosquito briquettes scattered on the ground, calling them "an inspector's best friend" because they are so useful in keeping the insects at bay.

Although he is officially looking for mosquitoes, he said that a keen awareness of one's surroundings, which is required of an inspector, has led to him to always expect the unexpected.

He constantly checks the ground for snakes in the woods and watches out for alligators near ponds and lakes.

One service request pitted him against a llama when he was checking some water inside the animal's pen.

"I started walking back to the fence, and the llama started running," he said. "It tore at me so I had to jump the fence."

Chapman took the job five years ago after eight years as a corrections officer.

The transition from dealing with prisoners to dealing with mosquitoes has been an easy one, although he acknowledges the intense mosquito infestations of rural areas such as McClellanville inspire some fear.

"I would say that mosquitoes can't fight back, but they'll have you running back into your truck," he said.

He has come to love his job over the past five years, especially when he is able to help and inform the general public.

"I wouldn't trade it," he said.