As the weather starts to heat up, local mosquito abatement officials are already actively monitoring and tracking mosquito populations in the hopes of limiting breeding this spring and into the summer.
Sutter-Yuba Mosquito Vector Control District Manager Stephen Abshier said one of their biggest concerns at this time is backyard swimming pools.
“A lot of people let their pools get green during the winter and that is prime breeding conditions for mosquitoes, even this early in the year,” said Abshier.
So far this year, Abshier said the pools that the district has responded to have had a pretty high density of mosquito larvae in the water, which could increase mosquito population numbers later in the year.
To prevent these larvae from reaching adulthood, Abshier said the district has been using an effective method that utilized coconut oil.
“The mosquitoes need to come to the surface for air every once in a while,” said Abshier. “We put a thin layer of oil on the surface that traps them and they will eventually suffocate.”
The best way to reduce mosquito numbers, said Abshier, is to eliminate any source of standing water that could provide a breeding ground for mosquitoes – which include buckets, yard ornaments, leaky faucets, clogged gutters and more in addition to unmaintained pools.
Abshier suggested that residents should attend to their pools and pay close attention to any other sources of standing water as they turn on their sprinklers or irrigation systems.
The district responds to calls for service to help residents resolve standing water or pool issues without the threat of fines or persecution.
“We want to provide the service for the community,” said Abshier. “If mosquitoes breed at one pool, it will not just affect that house but the whole neighborhood.”
Abshier said tracking of mosquitoes has shown they can travel more than a mile per day in search of standing water sites for breeding so it is crucial to identify these areas of concern before mosquito breeding gets out of control.
The district will also begin offering mosquito fish to the public May 1 to help control mosquito larvae populations. This is a popular option for people who have watering troughs for animals, said Abshier.
According to Abshier, the majority of mosquitoes produced in the area are a result of water use for local agricultural practices and the district already has several trapping stations around the area to monitor mosquito activities.
These stations are monitored weekly to identify and track where the mosquitoes are located as well as any instances of mosquitoes infected with diseases including West Nile Virus, Yellow Fever, Zika virus and various forms of Encephalitis.
According to Abshier, several of these trapping stations have been equipped with a new mosquito control method that not only kills the adult mosquitoes but also contaminates any water sources the mosquito comes into contact with, further preventing larvae from growing to adulthood.
Abshier said Yellow Fever and Zika virus can only be transmitted by mosquitoes to humans if the virus is already present so these instances do not occur often. Cases of Encephalitis are also rare, according to Abshier, but the district has found instances of West Nile Virus every year since 2005.
As we enter peak mosquito season in the weeks and months ahead, the district will be ramping up control efforts in May by expanding their staff from the 13 full-time employees to a crew of about 30. The full staff should be in place by the beginning of June, according to Abshier.
The district will continue to monitor mosquitoes activities throughout the summer, said Abshier, and will begin spraying when and where the need arises.
While the district continues to mitigate mosquito populations within the Yuba-Sutter region, Abshier said it is important for local residents to be mindful of the presence of mosquitoes and protect themselves as much as possible.
Abshier said the best way the community can prevent contracting any kind of virus is to take precautions while outside, including wearing long sleeves and pants and using insect repellent.
Mosquitoes are also most active in the early morning hours as well as sunset, so it is important to be especially vigilant during those hours, said Abshier.
According to Abshier, there are several repellents researched and approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with the most popular being those containing the active ingredient DEET.
“Oil of lemon eucalyptus is also a great option,” said Abshier. “It is fully endorsed by the CDC and readily available at most local stores.”
For more information or to inquire about a call for service, call the Sutter-Yuba Mosquito Vector Control District at 674-5456.