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Low mosquito numbers predicted in Saskatoon as tent caterpillar invasion ends

WATCH ABOVE: The infestation of tent caterpillars in Saskatoon and area is almost over and according to officials you may not be swatting at mosquitoes as much as usual this summer.

The infestation of tent caterpillars in Saskatoon and area is almost over, at least for now.

“The worst case I ran into was last Friday, a gentleman came in and had pictures to show me and said he was using a grain scoop to scoop them up and I couldn’t even tell the colour of his house,” Spencer Early of Early’s Farm & Garden Centre said.

READ MORE: Forest tent caterpillars invade Saskatoon

Approximately 30,000 city trees alone will need time to recover from this season’s forest tent caterpillar invasion.

According to Jeff Boone with the city’s pest management, outbreaks can last anywhere from three to seven years. Saskatoon is in year four when it comes to these creepy crawlies.

Forest tent caterpillars have become a nuisance to many people as Saskatoon deals with an outbreak.

“The numbers were quite high, the feeding is basically finished and what people are mostly seeing now are the caterpillars leaving the host trees then walking onto fences and other places to spin cocoons,” said Boone.

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READ MORE: ‘It’s like a carpet’: Pictures, videos show caterpillars coating Manitoba highway

The other good news is experts said we may not be swatting or slapping as much as usual this summer; dry conditions are likely to keep blood sucking mosquitoes at bay.

“Right now we haven’t had a lot of spring rain so our nuisance mosquito population is quite low, I’m not seeing a lot of adult mosquitoes,” Boone said.

In other parts of the country, mosquitoes are out in full force.

“I think some of the western mosquito, the prairie mosquitoes have gone to Edmonton and apparently it’s pretty prolific there because they’ve again had a lot of wet weather,” said David Phillips, senior climatologist with Environment Canada.

If mother nature doesn’t continue to cooperate in our region, Early says that doesn’t mean you can’t have a back-up.

Mosquito Barrier is the most popular product on the market right now and is said to keep mosquitoes away for weeks.

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“It’s a garlic based product, this might be the fifth year we’ve had it and it’s really effective and it’s not that expensive – a litre bottle for 40 dollars will do several acres,” Early added.

Mosquitoes that carry the West Nile virus are most active from mid-July to the end of August, peaking over August long weekend.

Health officials said they can arrive early and pose a serious health risk particularly to those with underlying immune issues or other chronic illnesses.

“The most serious effect is it can cause death, some of the neurological symptoms can be serious enough that some people die from it,” Dr. Johnmark Opondo, the deputy medical health officer with the Saskatoon Health Region (SHR), said.

Big outbreaks of West Nile occurred in the region in 2003 and 2007, however last year there were no reported cases of the virus in SHR.

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“But we shouldn’t be complacent, I think we should still practice good mosquito avoidance,” Opondo said.

Precautions to take include rubbing on some DEET, wear light coloured clothing and avoid going out at dusk or dawn when possible.