It may be hot and dry this summer but the local mosquitoes are still breeding by the thousands. The North Fork Mosquito Abatement District employees led by operations manager, Elizabeth “Biz” Collins, are once again hard at work killing mosquitoes.
2012 will be the fourth season since the District moved from a base of weekly fogging supported by larvaciding to an expanded larvaciding program, a breeding area mitigation program, and fogging only when a health threat is proven. Larvaciding targets mosquitoes while they are still in the larval stages in standing water.
In mid-June Ken Nordstrom of the Delta County Health Department reported to NFMAD that culex mosquitoes trapped from the Pumpkin Hollow area west of Paonia have tested positive for the West Nile virus. This is about a month early for culex mosquitoes.
Nordstrom said, “This is an early start to the West Nile Virus transmission season. Previous years have not produced positive mosquitoes in Delta County until mid July or the first weeks of August. This portends to be an active season for the disease. The Delta County Health Department strongly urges Delta County residents to take preventative measures against the virus.”
At the May meeting of NFMAD President Kevin Parks swore in newly elected board members Chuck Gille and Mike Heck. They replaced retiring members Tara Budinger and Kris Kropp. The board now consists of Parks, Rosemary Bilchak, Catherine Gockley, Gille and Heck. Besides Collins the District employs four seasonal workers who do the daily larvaciding work.
After a 2011 failure to get a tax mil levy increase for the district, volunteers are still doing the trapping and testing program. They are now being compensated for gas mileage and other expenses. Voters did approve the de-Brucing of the District, allowing it to collect and spend all of its current tax revenues.
This year there is an enhanced effort by the district to make irrigators aware of the ways they can be more efficient with water and breed fewer mosquitoes at the same time. Fliers have been distributed to farm related businesses and the District is working in cooperation with the Delta Conservation District.
Mitigation is also focused on areas that currently produce higher numbers of the type of culex mosquitoes that can carry the West Nile virus. These include the area around the Paonia Town Park.
A public awareness campaign is planned. On the District’s website Collins lists several ways residents can help reduce the number of mosquitoes and to protect yourself from bites: “Report stagnant water that stays in place for 2 days or more and we’ll be out ASAP to check. Prevent standing water by allowing fields to drain and dry before the next watering. Store under cover or turn over anything that collects water, such as buckets, trashcans, wheelbarrows, and old tires. Protect yourself and your family against biting mosquitoes by wearing long sleeved shirts, pants, and repellent.”
The last is recommended in the early morning and evening hours when mosquitoes are most active. If there appears to be a LOT of adult mosquitoes in your area NFMAD encourages you to call the district at 527-6681 or contact them by email at email@example.com.
Although the District generally doesn’t fog for mosquitoes unless there is a current health threat as indicated through their own, and the Health Department’s, mosquito trapping and testing programs, higher levels of mosquitoes sometimes warrant spraying to knock down the adult population while the breeding source of the mosquitoes is being located and treated with larvacides to ensure long term reductions in numbers.
During the 2011 season the District resorted to fogging only once, late in the season when significant numbers of West Nile positive mosquitoes were indentified from two separate locations in the district.