The annual mosquito control program is well underway in Red Deer. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Mosquito season excelerated by flooding in Red Deer

City treating standing water

Spring rains mixed with high temperatures could exacerbate Red Deer’s mosquito population.

Trevor Poth, Red Deer Parks superintendent, said it will really depend on the number of rain showers the city gets in the next little while and whether warm temperatures are mixed in between.

“That’s sort of the worse scenario for mosquito control for us, where it’s just repeated wet and repeated hot. I think everyone can appreciate how nice this 27C above weather is, but it’s also just excelerated the entire process for mosquito hatching,” Poth said on Wednesday.

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.

He said city is well into its mosquito campaign. Mosquito counts won’t happen until early June, but anecdotally there is talk of higher mosquito populations at some sports fields.

“Typically where we see the worse issues are where people have actually driven on grassy areas or driven in ditches and created those tire ruts. It’s those small, little patches of standing water that seem to have the highest level of mosquito populations.”

He said the cause could be parking lots surrounding the sports fields. It could also be adjacent areas with wet zones that have not been treated.

“Some of the flooding along Piper Creek and Waskasoo Creek definitely changed our operations. The really rapid flooding left a lot more standing water around the city than what’s typical. That can certainly be contributing to higher potential counts.”

Snow and ice can also still be found in some small drainage channels through the city and the city is monitoring those locations too, he said.

But nature does balance itself out. More mosquitoes mean more birds, bats and dragonflies, Poth said.

“It’s a natural cycle where their populations will increase as the food supply increases. So in combination with our ecologically friendly treatments, nature will achieve a balance here in Red Deer.”

To reduce mosquito bites, people are encouraged to use bug spray with DEET and wear light-coloured clothing when they visit parks.



szielinski@reddeeradvocate.com

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