Bright sunny skies. Cool evening breezes. Long days. Swimming, golf, mountain biking, rafting and sunbathing by the lake. These are the things that everyone loves about summer. What no one loves are mosquitoes, and residents of Golden and Area have always had to deal with their fair share of the pesky bugs.
If it seems like the mosquitoes have been worse this year than in the past, that’s because they likely have been.
The Columbia Shuswap Region District (CSRD), through its environmental consultants Morrow BioScience, conducts treatment and control for mosquitoes around Golden and Area A every year.
This can be done through one of two separate, but ultimately similar procedures. The first is a simple operation done on the ground with a blower. The second is a wide scale operation that’s done by helicopter.
A hopper hangs below the helicopter and spreads the BTI, a bacterial control agent, onto stillwater over top of the area at a set number of kilograms per hectare. The active ingredient in the BTI will only affect mosquitoes and doesn’t harm any other wildlife. Notably, the treatment must be administered during the larvae stage of a mosquito’s life.
“If you’re too late, the bacterium is not effective, and if you’re too early it’s not effective. So timing is critical to having an effective treatment,” said Hamish Kassa, environmental services co-ordinator with the CSRD.
Typically a mosquito will develop from an egg to an adult over the span of 240 hours. Because of increased summer temperatures in 2015, which has had an impact on the temperature of standing water across the valley, that cycle has been cut in half.
Therein lies the reason why locals may have noticed an increase in the number of mosquitoes this year when compared to previous summers.
“There was a treatment in the Nicholson area that was missed due to this. Rather than a regular six day monitoring schedule, they needed to be down to approximately two to three days so there was one large treatment that was missed,” Kassa said.
“In Nicholson we’ll typically do three aerial treatments a year. If your timing is not correct, you can get a hatch, and that’s what’s happened out there. A wide-scale hatch of mosquitoes are creating a lot of issues.”
That missed treatment happened about three or four weeks ago, meaning that those mosquitoes should be nearing the end of their life cycle and begin dying off.
Kassa says that the CSRD and Morrow BioScience are very aware of the issue after that miss in Nicholson and have consequently changed their procedure to reflect that.
“They’ve stepped up their monitoring intervals to two to three days there to hopefully not allow that to happen again,” Kassa said.
Kassa also said that there are things that locals can do to avoid mosquitoes. Common tips include wearing lighter-coloured clothing, avoiding exerting yourself physically while outdoors and avoiding the outdoors during peak mosquito times, at dusk and dawn.
It can also be beneficial to drain standing water around your home in order to prevent mosquitoes from breeding in your own backyard.