Skeeter war waged

More rainy weather is approaching — and that could create a bigger mosquito problem for Central Alberta.

More rainy weather is approaching — and that could create a bigger mosquito problem for Central Alberta.

City of Red Deer parks workers intend to do more testing of ditches, retention ponds and farmers’ fields around Red Deer following the rain that’s forecast for Thursday, Friday and Saturday of this week.

If mosquito larvae is found on standing pools of water, workers will once again be applying BTi (Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis), the larvae-destroying bacteria, said city park planning ecologist Ken Lehman.

Parks workers used BTi around Red Deer in mid-May, but a stretch of warm weather that followed resulted in some hatching and release of adult mosquitoes, added Ken Lehman, who noted these are particularly favourable conditions for growth.

The last few springs have been very dry, which kept mosquito numbers down.

While this spring’s rains are welcomed by farmers, gardeners and anyone else who worried about the effects of a drought, Lehman said it could lead to more mosquitoes getting hatched.

To stem the problem, city parks workers not only spread BTi within city limits, but also on farmers’ fields near the city where rain water stagnates. Lehman believes some of the adult insects that plague Red Deer residents could be blown in by winds from a wider area.

The city’s brand of bacterial mosquito control only works on larvae. Once eggs hatch and release adult mosquitoes, it’s too late to do anything, said Lehman, who believes fogging with insecticide is ineffective and alarming for some residents who worry about human health effects.

City residents can do their bit to help reduce the mosquito population by installing fountains in their backyard ponds, cleaning out eavestroughs so water doesn’t pool, and covering up openings on rain barrels.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com