A few more blood-sucking mosquitoes than usual have been snacking on Red Deerians, but not so many that the pests can’t be controlled, says a city official.
“Compared to the last several years, we’ve had a pretty wet spring. So with the intense rain events leading into summer, that’s contributed to mosquitoes hatching and population increases,” said Ken Lehman, ecological services operations co-ordinator with the city.
“I would say overall, there are more mosquitoes this spring than last, but it’s not an alarming thing. We’ve been seeing good results from what we’ve been doing with treatments.”
The city uses a microbial pesticide called bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti) on ditches and low-lying areas 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, says the city.
Lehman said water is tested to see if there are enough larvae to administer Bti.
“It’s a very target specific. We’ve been doing a little more treating than last year, but it’s not outside the realm of usual.”
He said people who are out at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are more active, will have a better chance of being bitten, but they can protect themselves by wearing long-sleeve shirts and pants, and using mosquito repellent.
“(Treatment) doesn’t balance it as much as we would like in the city, because we’re still getting bit by mosquitoes. We’re not trying to wipe them out, because we know that’s an important food source.”
He said treatment is all about reducing the population to more tolerable levels. Mosquito predators, like dragon flies and tree swallows, are also helping to control the pests.
The last time city workers carried out spot treatments was after a downpour last week, and treatments will continue through the summer as necessary.
The province has indicated that the risk of contracting West Nile virsu is low.