Relief could be on the way from the swarms of mosquitoes that have descended on Red Deer and area like a winged plague.
The single-minded, seemingly wind-resistant squadrons of blood-thirsty pests tormenting local residents for the last couple of weeks are nearing the end of their life cycle.
“The mosquitoes we’re seeing are very aggressive,” agrees Ken Lehman, the city’s parks planning and ecological specialist, on Thursday.
“They are very active during the day. Fortunately, they are short-lived.
“We’ve had a lot of activity in the last little while.
“But with the hatch that is out there, it should drop off for us.”
If — and this is a big if — the weather co-operates and there isn’t too much rain followed by a warm spell in the next while to promote another round of hatching, there should be some relief.
“I can’t guarantee anything. But I would suspect over the next couple of weeks we’re going to see a drop in mosquito populations.”
Lehman, who is on the front lines of the annual mosquito war, said it has been a bigger-than-usual onslaught so far.
Put that down to the big snowmelt that left lots of temporary wet areas tailor-made for mosquito larvae.
“There was a good hatch over the last couple of weeks that is a result of all the standing water we had from the snow.”
Strong southeasterly winds may also have contributed to the numbers by blowing in mosquitoes from surrounding areas outside of zones the city targets in its annual spring mosquito control campaign, which is aimed at getting the critters at the larva stage.
That program was successful, with good kill rates. However, there were just so many wet areas this year that the city couldn’t hit them all, Lehman said.
Whether another round of torment is coming depends largely on the vagaries of weather.
“If we don’t get the moisture, if we have a dry, warm summer, we might not see many mosquitoes at all.”
While the city’s large-scale spring campaign is over, staff haven’t hung up their equipment for dispensing BTi (bacillus thuringiensis israelensis), a larvae-destroying bacteria that is non-toxic to other beneficial aquatic organisms.
Lehman said if rain-formed pools return, staff will go back and treat the larvae identified as among the peskiest species. The skeeter situation is monitored all summer and more treatment ordered when necessary.
In the meantime, cover up, grab the bug spray and cross your fingers.