The City of Edmonton’s annual mosquito control program is well underway and so far, there’s promising news when it comes to the pest population.
“We anticipate that mosquito numbers will be lower this year as we are coming out of a very dry winter. Our spring so far has been very dry and at times, cool,” said Mike Jenkins, the city’s pest management coordinator.
The city’s efforts to keep the mosquito population at bay started on April 12, with crews proactively treating roadside ditches and other temporary aquatic habitats where mosquito larvae have been developing.
One change to this year’s program is that aerial control, which includes the use of helicopters, will not be performed. Jenkins said this is due in part to the city wanting to keep costs down amid the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, Jenkins also noted that they wouldn’t have used the helicopter control this season anyway, due to the low mosquito activity so far.
“We will still be able to meet our control goals without the aerial program. The dry season we’ve had so far has reduced the need for aerial spraying,” he explained. “With the conditions we’ve had so far in April, we actually would not have brought the helicopters in this season in any case.
“This is probably only the second time this has happened in the last few decades, the last time being 2008.”
Jenkins said there are currently some adult mosquitoes buzzing around that survived the winter. They’re typically the slower, clumsier species that bite less, according to Jenkins.
Some spring species are also developing now as larvae, which will emerge as the “aggressive daytime biters.”
“Right now, there’s very little moisture on the ground, very little habitat for the mosquitoes, so we’re not actually expecting very many of those,” he said.
“There wasn’t an awful lot of snow on the ground, not much moisture to drive those. So we’re not expecting those aggressive daytime biters to be showing up in any large numbers in May.”
As is the case any year, though, it only takes one decent rainfall for the situation to change and for more mosquitoes to develop and hatch.
“Conditions can change very quickly as we move through the season. It takes just one decent amount of precipitation to deliver enough moisture for dormant mosquito eggs to hatch.”
Jenkins said Edmontonians can help control the pest population by cleaning up standing water, such as puddles, in their backyards. Rubber tires stored outdoors, eavestroughs, birdbaths and fish ponds are also breeding grounds for egg development.
When it comes to repelling the pesky biters, Jenkins recommends wearing long sleeves and long pants, particularly when mosquitoes are most active at dawn and dusk. Mosquito repellent can help, as well as something as practical as an osculating fan.
“Just a simple fan that moves back and forth and is blowing air. Mosquitoes don’t like landing in windy conditions, especially changing windy conditions, so a simple fan like that is a really effective means of reducing biting in the backyard environment,” Jenkins said.
For more information on the 2021 mosquito management program, visit the City of Edmonton’s website.