Mosquitos thriving in Central Okanagan spring

High water table and extreme heat create fertile breeding ground.

Mosquito control may seem like an oxymoron for many of us this spring.

These blood-sucking insects are presently out in overwhelming force, aided by weather conditions that have proven advantageous for mosquito larvae development.

Curtis Fediuk, with Duka Environmental Services which has the mosquito control service contract within the Regional District of Central Okanagan, said the high water table combined with extreme summer temperatures in May created an ideal breeding ground.

“Last year was probably not as bad, it was a one in 100 year kind of thing with the flooding. This year is like a one in 200 year kind of thing,” said Fediuk.

“We do what we always do. We sample and survey. We have about 300 sites that we monitor and sample of larvae every six to 10 days.”

Water soluble pouches containing pellets of an environmentally approved mosquito larvicide can be dropped into catch basins. Photo: RDCO

He noted, however, that flooding made some of those sites inaccessible at times, and groundwater pooling on the surface created natural stillwater locations which mosquitos seek out to lay their eggs.

He said enough pooled water to fill up a coffee cup can produce up to 200 mosquitos.

Fediuk said Mother Nature offers tools such as bats, dragonflies and frogs that feed on mosquitos, but they can’t compete with the reproduction capabilities of the little pests.

“There is a reason mosquitos have been around for 200 million years. And they can be very upsetting and very annoying,” he said, noting they tend to be dormant during the day and take flight between dusk and dawn.

Bruce Smith, communications officer for the RDCO, says their Kelowna headquarters have not received a huge influx of mosquito complaints, but living in West Kelowna he is personally well aware of the heightened mosquito presence this spring.

Smith said an aggressive mosquito control program funded by the province to previously address West Nile Virus concerns has long since disappeared.

Related: West Kelowna rejects mosquito-control program

While Kelowna, Lake Country, Electoral Area East, Peachland and the West Kelowna Estates neighourhood of West Kelowna are still supporting the program, all other areas within the regional district are not.

“About five or six years ago the provincial funding stopped and each area within the regional district was left to either continue to fund the program for their area or not,” he said.

Fediuk said the best way to keep mosquitoes away is to clean up any standing water sources, offering these suggestions:

• Eaves and drains: clean out gutters of debris

• Buckets, flower pots, plastic containers: drill holes In bottoms or store inside

• Ornamental ponds: a pond aerator will keep water moving; stock with fish to control larvae

• Rain barrels: cover lightly with mosquito-proof mesh

• Routinely check Items that collect water such as buckets, pool covers, tarps, and wheelbarrows

• Fill in low depressions in lawn and check flat roofs

Duka also offers some tips on how to avoid mosquitos bites:

• Avoid going outside at dawn and dusk—mosquitoes are most active at these times

• Wear light coloured, loose fitting clothes with long sleeves and pants when possible

• Check window screens for holes and make sure they fit snugly into window frames; if you don’t have screens, keep windows and doors closed when mosquitoes are active

• Apply DEET-based mosquito repellent (follow label precautions and do not use on children under six months of age) (Note: do not use combination repellent/sunscreen)

• Mosquito ‘zappers’ that attract bugs have not been proven effective

To report a typo, email: edit@kelownacapnews.com.


@BarryGerding
barry.gerding@blackpress.ca

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