Skeeter control in Red Deer has been business as usual despite a late start to the program.
Parks Department superintendent Trevor Poth said on Tuesday that so far it has been an average year for the pesky mosquito populations in the city.
“I know some people have commented to us that it seems worse than usual but we tend to hear that every year,” said Poth. “Based on our counts, it has been a very status quo year for mosquitoes.”
Poth said this would change should a significant amount of rain fall in the next several weeks. He said the majority of the city’s mosquitoes come from small pockets of isolated and standing waters.
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 through the process of larviciding.
Bti is non-chemical product that only kills mosquitoes. It does not affect fishing waters, other aquatic organisms or birds.
Crews will go around with nets to do quick counts and spread the product on the surface of the water if the mosquitoes seem to be on the rise.
City crews were about a week behind this year because of snow and cold weather. Crews typically start in May but have been known to start as early as April. Poth said it depends on when the snow melts and the wet areas begin to open up.
The city completed its first round of mosquito control last week.
“We try to control the populations of the mosquitoes,” said Poth. “We are not trying to kill them all. Mosquitoes play a vital part in the overall ecosystem. They provide great food for bats, birds and insects.”
After each big rainfall, crews go through the entire city checking for mosquitoes.
“We only control when we see the need to,” said Poth. “It’s all about doing the counts and just trying to figure out where the species are.”
Poth said they also trap and kill some mosquitoes to check for disease and do other assessments.