As the weather warms and people spend more time outdoors, many are wondering when, and how badly, mosquito season will hit Alberta — Lethbridge in particular.
“If things continue as they are, I think that it should be a year that doesn’t have really high numbers of mosquito population,” said City of Lethbridge pest management foreman Erin McIlwraith.
Lethbridge has seen a cool, dry spring with just a little more than 2 millimetres of rain, according to McIlwraith.
So far, there don’t seem to be many mosquitoes out enjoying the nice weather.
“We haven’t really seen mosquitoes out yet,” McIlwraith said. “But because of the rain we’ve just had, we’re going to start monitoring for any mosquito activity in standing water within the city of Lethbridge.”
Mosquito monitoring will start Friday.
McIlwraith said they keep a close eye on standing water near residential neighbourhoods, but there are things people can do to protect themselves, and their homes.
“To prevent mosquitoes from reproducing in your backyard, just make sure that you don’t have any standing water,” she said. “Flip any pots over that would be holding water, or empty out tires — that kind of stuff.”
“Avoid being outside around dusk and dawn when the mosquito population is really out … wearing long sleeves and using mosquito repellent that contains DEET.”
The onset of mosquito season brings the added warning about West Nile virus.
For some southern Albertans, that means making sure your horse has had its annual vaccine.
“It’s not so critical exactly which month you’re doing it in, more so just that you’re just staying in that habit,” said Mitch Oviatt, a doctor of veterinary medicine who owns Ranch Docs Veterinary Services, Inc.
He said severe cases of West Nile virus in horses can lead to residual neurological deficits that could be permanent, like tremors, twitches and instability when walking and standing.
“As long as they’re on an every-year schedule, the vaccine is pretty efficacious for that 12-month window.”
Oviatt said they generally see cases of West Nile virus in horses in the late summer and early fall, but he has seen cases as late as early November.
“It’s a really important practice, and it’s one of those things that’s a whole lot cheaper to prevent than (it is to) treat a clinical case of West Nile,” he said.
“The biggest thing is just staying in that habit… Marking it on your calendar, reminding yourself, talk to your neighbours.”