A consistently wet summer has helped to crimp Red Deer’s mosquito population, says the city’s parks superintendent.
Trevor Poth said the integrated pest management team has been out doing a fair bit of proactive mosquito monitoring and control, and will continue to do so after each major rainfall.
But more moisture and less evaporation has kept the population down.
“Staying consistently wet, we’re not getting the same level of drying, which we think is helping to assist managing those populations so far,” Poth said.
He said extreme volumes of water and evaporation after a couple of weeks would make mosquitoes worse. But that is not what is happening.
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.
Poth said the late thaw in the spring helped delay mosquito hatching. Combine that with the wet, early summer, and the result has been only a modest increase in mosquitoes.
The city is looking at a typical July as far as mosquitoes go.
“We’re pleasantly surprised to not be seeing a larger volume of mosquitoes. Numbers are up a little bit, but not significant.”
He said dry weather is best to reduce mosquito numbers, but that’s bad for nature. Consistent rainfall through the rest of the year would be beneficial for Red Deer.
“We’ll take all the moisture we can get after five years of pretty intense drought conditions through the city. All the trees, the vegetation, has been under drought stress. We’re hoping this year is a nice recovery.
“It wouldn’t take much to dry out the roots of trees, especially some of our mature trees. We really want to keep their root masses as wet as possible as we lead into the fall.”
Despite the current precipitation, people should not become complacent when it comes to wildfires, he said.
“Even though soil conditions are quite wet, it doesn’t take very long before there becomes a fairly significant risk of wildfires.
“We want to make sure that everyone is using approved firepits and making sure their fires are fully extinguished before walking away,” Poth said.