Treatment has already started in and around Red Deer to control the mosquito population so people can enjoy the outdoors.
Trevor Poth, Red Deer Parks superintendent, said testing for mosquitoes started in early April and the first treatment of the season began April 12.
“We went solid for three weeks to get all of the typical areas all treated. Now we’re just on regular maintenance waiting to see what mother nature has in store for moisture,” Poth said on Tuesday.
The city uses a microbial pesticide called bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti) on ponds where mosquito larvae will hatch. It is used to treat the aquatic larval stage of the mosquito life cycle before it emerges as an adult.
Bti is a non-chemical product that only kills mosquitoes. It does not affect fishing waters, other aquatic organisms or birds.
Staff also have permission from many property owners to treat land within a three-km radius of the city limits.
“We actually treat a huge amount of land outside the city, which are actually some of the primary zones where we have to be able to treat because mosquitoes will fly in awfully quick in a little bit of a wind storm.”
So far Red Deer’s dry spring means fewer mosquitoes, but that could quickly change with a few days of heavy rain followed by about a week of sun, he said.
“That allows their larvae to hatch really quickly.”
Last year, the mosquitoes were a big nuisance for about three weeks in late summer, he said.
“We didn’t get much moisture until mid-July, August. It was kind of a late summer mosquitoes outbreak for us.”
He said residents can help by regularly changing water in bird baths and eliminating standing water in ruts or areas of their yard where water can pool. They should also contact the Parks department at 403-342-8234 when they see standing water in lengthy tire ruts in parks or ditches.
“Those are primary areas where mosquitoes will lay eggs and hatch. It’s not those big wetlands that we have. It’s all those tiny pockets of water around the city. If we could eliminate those, we sure could reduce the population considerably.”
As usual people should protect themselves against mosquitoes by wearing light-coloured clothing and regularly using bug spray, especially if they are out at dawn or dusk.
“We always like to remind people our goal isn’t to eliminate mosquito populations. They are actually a really important food source for the overall food web of the city. So we’re just trying control mosquitoes so people can be out there.”