Talk with most anyone who enjoys the outdoors and you’re certain to get around to the subject of this year’s mosquito population.Chris Barlow, Castlegar’s director of transportation and civic works, said there’s a perfectly good explanation as to why the buzzing annoyances are in abundance.
“This year has seen higher water levels and more moisture. The population requires a certain level of water to help them to mature. If you see more moisture in any given year you will see an increase in the mosquito population,” Barlow explained.
Although this year’s population is anecdotally high, it’s uncertain as to exactly how many mosquitos are in the area.“We did no monitoring of the catch basins this year,” said Barlow.Nor has the city sprayed for mosquitos.“We traditionally sprayed, but the provincial government stopped funding those programs two years ago,” added Barlow.And despite your scratching, slapping and swatting, that may be a good thing.
Lynn Wescott, a Castlegar resident and entomologist said that not all mosquitos are created equal and while the biting kind aren’t appreciated, there are other species which serve a valuable purpose.“
In B.C. alone there are over 60 species and not all of those 60 will bite humans. Some of those will only take their blood meal from birds, and some of those will only take their blood meal from amphibians. Not all mosquitos are bad and not all of them are nuisance species,” explained Wescott.So, what happens is that quite often, humans in their desire to rid themselves of the nuisance species, will also rid themselves of the kind which help in ecological balance.
“In foggers and such they use pesticides which tend to be broad spectrum and you could be targeting other [non-nuisance] mosquitos. Those mosquitos are a primary food source for birds and bats,” Westcott concluded.
Interior Health does have some suggestions to help decrease the mosquito population:Eliminate mosquito habitat (standing water) around homes.Clean out and empty eaves troughs, pool covers, old tires or any other materials that can collect water. Empty and clean bird baths weekly, install aeration pumps on ornamental ponds and water gardens.Fit rain barrels with tight lids or screens and empty saucers under flower pots.Install good screens on doors and windows. Check them to ensure they fit snugly into the frame and that there are no holes or tears.
Try to avoid outdoor activities around dusk and dawn when mosquitos are most active.Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants and a hat – weather permitting.Choose light-coloured clothing since dark colours attract mosquitos. Use repellent containing DEET or other suitable alternatives. Follow label instructions for use.