Saskatchewan Mosquito Numbers Soar

Sept. 9, 2011, 12:07 p.m.

 
Wade Morrow, supervisor for pest management with the City of Regina, said the latest mosquito numbers are more than double the historical average.
 

Wade Morrow, supervisor for pest management with the City of Regina, said the latest mosquito numbers are more than double the historical average.

Photograph by: Leah Hennel, Calgary Herald files

REGINA -- This summer, Saskatchewan’s official slogan could be “Land of the standing water.”

Excess standing water and decreased government funding for mosquito control programs has resulted in a lot of itchy Saskatchewan residents.

Wade Morrow, supervisor for pest management with the City of Regina, said the latest mosquito numbers are more than double the historical average.

“(From July 4 to 8) we had 1,162 in our lake traps,” said Morrow. “The 10-year average for the week is 562. The historical average for that week was 466.”

In warm temperatures, Morrow said mosquitoes are maturing from egg to adult in less than a week. However, wet conditions are improving outside the city limits.

He said with additional funding from city council, the city is in the process of hiring more staff and they are working longer hours.

Across the province, mosquito spray has been flying off the shelves.

Karen Wheeler, manager of Home Hardware in Regina Beach, said the blood-suckers definitely don’t bother Wheeler’s business.

Deep Woods OFF is the hottest summer trend.

“Sales have been three times as much (this year),” she said. “We run out every week. There’s a Home Hardware brand that we carry too and we’re out of that. We order a case of each again every week.”

She said mosquito magnets and yard foggers — which use chemicals — are also hard to keep in stock.

“We’re just selling a lot of everything,” she said.

The provincial government advises people to wear repellent whenever outdoors in warm weather. It also recommends using products with DEET.

Alice Marvin, owner of The Happy Camper Campground in Regina Beach, isn’t too worried about rising mosquito numbers.

“Sure it’s a little bit higher than normally because of all the sloughs,” said Marvin. “But I don’t spray any pesticides at all. You could spray and spray every second day — it’s endless.

She’s confident rising mosquito numbers has also led to an increase in their most dreaded predator.

“There’s an awful lot of dragonflies out,” said Marvin. “Some of the fields are just incredible out here. They eat the larvae so there’s no mosquitoes around. It’s phenomenal in places.”

She’s got another predator on her side.

“Swallows eat 300,000 mosquitoes in a season — each bird,” she said. “They really do gobble up a lot of it.”

Marvin will always prefer birds and dragon flies to pesticides.

“I’m kind of green myself, so I don’t want any of that stuff (on the campground),” she said. “I just use the birds.”

Saskatchewan residents are advised to protect themselves from the Culex tarsalis, the mosquito that carries the West Nile virus.

Last year, only two people contracted West Nile virus.

Precautions include using insect repellent and wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants.

People can reduce mosquitoes around their homes by regularly drying out areas and containers that collect water.

For more information about West Nile, visit the Ministry of Health’s website (www.health.gov.sk.ca/westnile-virus).

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