By Karlene Skretting
Westwind Weekly News
So far the local mosquito population is nothing like last year, thanks to Mother Nature providing a drier spring and local Raymond and Magrath town crews being proactive and larviciding standing bodies of water.
“It looks like they have been coming out here the last couple days, I’ve noticed out in the yard working,” said Jeff Coppieters, Town of Raymond asset manager. Coppieters has been working to regulate the mosquito population in the area for the last 11 years and his department will soon be busy trying to keep the mosquito population under control.
“I think the warmer it gets the next two, three weeks, the more they will come out,” added Trevor Millward, Town of Magrath operations Manager, pointing out that hot weather and long days allow mosquitos to transform from larvae to adults at an accelerated rate.
To prepare for warmer temperatures, and to ensure that local residents get to enjoy the outdoors and summer heat that they wait for all year, Magrath and Raymond tested standing bodies of water back at the end of April and May and larvacided ditches and elsewhere as needed.
Coppieters noted that the east side of Raymond, where a lot of flood irrigating always takes place, was a particular focus.
To further help reduce the number of mosquito species that are a nuisance and those that have been found to transmit the West Nile virus, Raymond and Magrath will be regularly fogging over the next few months.
Federal approved adulticides were sprayed in Magrath Tuesday night, with the fogger truck expected to make its rounds on a weekly basis. Fogging will take place on either Tuesday or Thursday evening, starting between 8 and 9 p.m., taking two to three hours.
“We won’t spray just to spray. We will only spray as needed,” said Millward who predicts fogging will continue through the last week of August.
The application is dependent on weather, equipment, the mosquito population and operator’s availability.
“The week of Magrath Days and the week before that we are going to do it twice a week, so we will do it on both the Tuesday and Thursday.” This will help to further reduce the mosquito population for the Town’s celebration when everyone is in Town, to maximize outside enjoyment had by locals and visitors alike.
Weather pending Raymond plans to start spraying tomorrow (Friday) evening. And will target and apply adulticides on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays between 9 and 11 p.m for the remainder of the summer.
“We are hoping to start by the end of this week if the weather is favourable,” said Coppieters.
In Alberta there are 44 different species of mosquitos. There is a variety of mosquito that carries the West Nile virus, specifically the culex tarsalis mosquito, that start to incubate early in July. Raymond and Magrath are both planning to get a jump on the species.
“I know people appreciate it, especially those from out of town. People will come (visit Raymond) and say we don’t have mosquitos. We have mosquitos, it is just a reduced population. It is good that we can do this.”
It is recommended that residents close their doors and windows and go inside when they hear the sprayer in their area.
At press time Stirling had not yet formalized a mosquito control policy for the summer of 2015. The Village confirmed that they are hoping to contract Raymond to fog like in years past, but no formal plan or schedule is in place yet. Last year fogging took place on Tuesday and Thursday evenings.
People can follow a few simple steps to protect their property from becoming infested by mosquitoes. Make sure there is no standing water on your property and limit watering. Empty planters, bird feeders, wheelbarrows, buckets and any other areas where small amounts of water get captured, suggested Millward.
“If you see a bat or any dragon flies, don’t kill them because they’ll eat their weight in mosquitos everyday,” shared Coppieters.
Typically, ten days after rainfall is when the mosquitoes will start to bite.
According to the Global Healing Center the best natural ways to treat a mosquito bite is to use one of the following: rub raw honey on the bite, draw a warm bath with two-and-a-half cups of apple cider vinegar added, apply a baking soda water paste to the bite, place several drops of lemon or lime juice on the bite or take a leaf off of an Aloe Vera plant and rub the bite slowly.
With West Nile virus always a concern in the summer, Alberta Health Services is reminding individuals to be cautious. Preventative measures include avoiding the outdoors during dusk and dawn when mosquitos are most active, wearing insect repellent containing DEET, staying out of tall grass, and wearing long-sleeved, light colored clothing.
“That is the first preventative, take measures into your own hands,” reminded Coppieters.
Whether gardening, golfing, fishing, travelling or just relaxing outdoors, all Albertans should take these simple steps to prevent bites and protect themselves.
For more information on the West Nile virus visit http://www.fightthebite.info or call Health Link Alberta at 1-866-408-5465 (LINK).