While the dry spring conditions exacerbate the fire risk in the Okanagan, it also means pesky mosquitoes will be less of a nuisance this summer.
Crews with the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen (RDOS) mosquito control program were out on Thursday morning treating mosquito larvae habitats in the South Okanagan.
The flying insects thrive in shallow, standing water. During last year’s extreme flooding events, mosquitoes flourished, driving some rural homeowners indoors.
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“Last year was one of those one-in-100-year events for a lot of things — flooding but also mosquito control,” said program supervisor Zoe Kirk.
The floods came early, which means the mosquitoes did, too.
“We were actually behind the eight ball all season long. This year, in comparison, with a dry spring, we’ve been able to get out on the ground early and stop that first mass hatch,” Kirk said.
The RDOS works with pilots from Eclipse Helicopters to drop a pesticide called BTI from the air.
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BTI is a naturally occurring, non-toxic bacteria that specifically targets mosquito and black fly larva. Mosquito larvae are filter feeders, and when they ingest the bacteria, it creates a toxin in their gut that kills them.
Over 400 private properties are treated every year.
“The mosquito control program allows residents the availability to use their backyards to have their barbecues and to survive the spring and summer in several areas of the regional district without nuisance mosquitoes,” Kirk said.
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Pilot Derek Robinson said the rugged terrain can be difficult for ground crews to access so treating land from the air can also be a safer option.
“Some of these areas are kind of hazardous for them just because of the vastness of where it is,” he said while giving Global Okanagan an aerial tour near Olalla, B.C.
“We are able to help them get to areas that are very difficult.”
Kirk said the program managed to get an early start on the season.
“We were able to get out and get what we call snowmelt mosquitoes, which means we were putting larvicide in the water as the snow was melting,” she said.
“With a slow rise to the water and a drought situation or conditions happening in the regional district, we expect that this year will be much better and much easier for folks.”