Mosquito battle takes to the air | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Mosquito battle takes to the air

Kurt Hildebrand
Tribune News Service

Sharlene Irete / Tribune News ServiceDouglas County Mosquito Abatement District Manager Krista Jenkins and Skeeter 1, one of the three trucks used by the district to spray for mosquitoes.

GARDNERVILLE, Nev. – The battle against Carson Valley’s mosquitoes will take to the air Wednesday.

Douglas County Mosquito Abatement District Manager Krista Jenkins said they are going to begin aerial spraying for mosquitoes in what she confirmed has been a bad mosquito season.

“It’s a really bad year,” she said. “The mosquitoes have been really heavy.”

A wet winter and peculiar spring have contributed to the population of more than a dozen species of mosquitoes that live in Carson Valley.

She said this year two species have been particularly bad.

“Right now we’re dealing with two different species that are day biters, and they are fierce,” she said. “Some mosquitoes travel up to 30 miles looking for a blood meal. You might be in area that’s dry, but there are still mosquitoes. People sometimes get confused because mosquitoes are blown in by the wind.”

Recommended Stories For You

Jenkins said the district has been working to try and keep up with the burgeoning mosquito population but with only five people and three trucks has found it difficult.

“Our main objective is larva sighting, so we can treat water with mosquito larva, so the adults don’t hatch,” she said. “Because it was such an atypical spring, we’re behind schedule.”

The second line of defense is killing the mosquitoes after they take to the air.

“We have three ground vehicles to cover all of Douglas County, and parts of Lake Tahoe and Topaz Lake,” she said. “Our vehicles drive around on public streets. People can call and request service. We ask that people try and keep their messages brief, and just give us their name, address and phone number. If they’re calling, we assume they have a mosquito problem.”

In order to spray either from the ground or the air, conditions have to be just right – not too hot, not too cold or too windy.

“We have a very narrow window we can work in,” she said.

While there’s lots of mosquitoes, none that have been tested are carrying West Nile virus so far, Jenkins said.

She sends mosquitoes to Reno to be tested every week, and so far they’ve been clean.

While the mosquito abatement district is trying to keep the mosquitoes under control, there are things residents can do to keep the bloodsuckers down in their vicinity.

One thing is to make sure water is drained out of anything where water can gather.

“Mosquitoes can breed in anything that can hold water, no matter what size,” she said. “People should make sure there’s no standing water of any kind. Check flower pots and empty them once a day or two. Make sure birdbaths are empty. For water features and ponds, the cleaner you keep the water the better it is. Keep vegetation out of the water. If you see any standing water call us so we can come check it out. Check irrigation boxes, because they sometimes leak, and drain boats after a rain.”

While winds and thunderstorms will disperse a mosquito population, it also leaves standing pools of water where they can breed.

Jenkins said that while it’s tough to ask people not to go out at dawn and dusk, that is one way to avoid some mosquito species.

“Wear long sleeves, long pants, socks and use some type of repellent,” she said. “Use anything that will work for you including lemon eucalyptus, and apply it well and frequently.”

She suggested going to the insecticide aisle at the hardware store and looking for some sort of barrier spray to reduce the mosquito population around homes.

Also spray horses if possible, and make sure they have their West Nile virus shots.