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Rainy weather necessitates more mosquito control measures in Red Deer and area

An ‘uptick’ in mosquitoes this summer is expected
A team of Red Deer city parks workers are busy carrying out a major summer mosquito control program this week. (Black Press file photo)

Rainy weather is welcome in Central Alberta after an unusually hot and dry spring.

But several days of non-stop precipitation will likely produce a “significant uptick” of nuisance mosquitoes this summer, said Ken Lehman, ecological services operations c0-ordinator for the City of Red Deer.

A team of city parks workers are, therefore, busy carrying out a major summer mosquito control program this week. Four workers are spreading the environmentally sensitive biological agent BTI on standing water, where mosquito larvae are known to grow.

BTI (or Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis), is a bacterium naturally found in soils. The non-toxic bio-larvicide rapidly degrades in the environment and has no significant impact on other species (although it also kills black fly larvae). By distributing the granular product on surfaces of ponds or water-soaked grass mosquito larvae is killed before becoming an adult insect.

Lehman stressed the idea is not to eliminate mosquitoes entirely, “but just keep them at a tolerable level.”

He described this year’s spring weather as a more extreme version of 2022, when May was also hot and dry and a lot of rain fell in June.

Since there wasn’t a lot of standing water to deal with a month ago, very little mosquito control was needed in the early spring, he added.

Now “we are responding to the rain…in the last couple of days, there’s been a lot of water coming down. We’re treating it as it comes because we can’t control the weather.”

Mosquito eggs are known to lay dormant for weeks, months — or possibly even years — during dry periods. They only hatch after water covers them, and the larvae need stagnant water to survive. They live in water for 7-14 days, depending on the temperature and turn into pupae before emerging as adult mosquitoes.

If this summer turns out to be mosquito-ridden, Lehman said the best protection is to wear long sleeves and pants. Mosquito repellent can also be used containing DEET, but not on very young infants.

Avoid disturbing grassy areas as mosquitoes tend to be drawn to areas of higher humidity.

The City of Red Deer will do additional mosquito control, monitoring and treatment within city limits — as well as in a buffer zone outside the boundaries of Red Deer — as needed throughout the summer.

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Lana Michelin

About the Author: Lana Michelin

Lana Michelin has been a reporter for the Red Deer Advocate since moving to the city in 1991.
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