May 19, 2017 5:01 pm
Updated: May 19, 2017 9:00 pm

Mosquito control program underfunded ahead of banner season: pest controller


The high water across the Okanagan Valley is the ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes and officials are warning it’s shaping up to be a banner year for the pesky blood suckers.

Pest controllers took the mosquito fight to new heights today while one worker is questioning whether it will be enough to fend off the looming infestations.

“This is kind of the magic storm for mosquitos this year,” said Zoe Kirk with the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen, which funds the program.

READ MORE: ‘Join the fight against the bite’ by removing mosquito hangouts: RDCO

Cindy Boehm is one of only two members of the mosquito control crew trying to control the infestation across the south Okanagan Similkameen.

“There is water where there has never been water,” she said. “You see the coverage of the amount of water that is out there, the bio mass that hatches out is extreme.”

The crew’s weapon of choice is a larvicide called BTI, a natural occurring bacteria.

Today the pest controllers dropped BTI from a helicopter on hard to reach areas where stagnant water is manifesting.

“We identify the areas that are most difficult for the ground crews to get to,” said contractor Derek Robinson, President of Eclipse Helicopters.

READ MORE: Mosquito season starts early in south Okanagan

Boehm said utilizing a helicopter is more timely and effective than the usual ground fight; an area that would take crews several hours to treat only takes an aircraft a matter of seconds.

But hiring a helicopter and pilot is expensive and the regional district can only afford four aerial trips this season.

“Especially on a fledge year like this, it would be great to get some money from the provincial government so that we could fly every two weeks,” said Boehm.

An anticipated banner year for the blood suckers is only making matters worse.

“People are like we’re getting eaten alive but there’s only two of us so there is only so much we can do.”

Officials are asking Okanagan residents to remove stagnant water from their properties, get pets vaccinated and be armed with repellent.

“There is a lot of potential biting to be had,” Boehm said.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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