Edmonton’s mosquito outlook looks good, right now

Edmonton’s mosquito outlook looks good, right now - image

EDMONTON- Spring has finally sprung in Edmonton and with any hope, it’s here to stay. But, as most Edmontonians know, along with summer in our city comes mosquitoes.

City crews have been out on foot, in trucks and in helicopters since mid-April, targeting standing water within the city’s 1,400 square kilometre mosquito control area.

The city’s mosquito management program focuses on reducing mosquito populations at the larval stage, before they emerge as adults.

City officials say it’s a safer and more environmentally friendly approach than controlling adult mosquitoes. They say fogging adult mosquitoes is undesirable because it could kill beneficial insects like dragonflies and exposes people and animals to mosquito spraying.

While the pesky biters usually begin hatching at the beginning of May, it appears the cool spring we’ve experienced up until now has actually paid off.

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“This has been one of the weirdest springs I think we’ve ever seen in terms of the weather conditions,” said Mike Jenkins, biological sciences technician with the City of Edmonton.

“It hasn’t been one big rapid melt that would result in large habitats developing. It’s slower. That has given us a larger window of opportunity to go after that habitat and control it. We’re pretty confident we have a good handle on it,” Jenkins added.

There are certain mosquito species out there already, according to Jenkins. Those mosquitoes are leftover from last year and survived the winter by hibernating under the snow or in sewer systems.

“These are generally very large and slow mosquitoes, so they are quite noticeable, but they are also not very aggressive biters,” said Jenkins.

He says because this year’s mosquito development has been delayed by the weather so much, they may not begin to appear until mid or even late May.

“We’re seeing fairly low numbers in even the areas we haven’t treated, so at this point it’s looking fairly good,” said Jenkins.

But, don’t hold your breath. Because the mosquito population is so heavily dependent upon the weather, the bloodsuckers still have time to rear their ugly heads.

“If we get warm spells and an increase in precipitation that can all change fairly quickly.”

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“We can’t commit to eliminating mosquitoes, but we certainly know we can make a difference,” added James Wilke, director of Animal Care and Control with the City of Edmonton.

The city spends about $1 million annually on mosquito control.

For more information on pest management and tips on how you can protect yourself from mosquitoes, visit the City of Edmonton’s website.

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