Angela Brandt Havre Daily News email@example.com
The Hill County Mosquito District is doing its part to help squash the pests bugging county residents and needs help in swatting the little vampires. Residents can practice strategies to keep the little bloodsuckers at bay. District workers began fogging with permethrin, a flower derivative that kills the skeeters on contact, a month earlier than normal this year, district coordinator Terry Turner said. Efforts usually begin at the end of June and this year the spraying operations started on May 19. Hot temperatures brought the mosquitoes on a month earlier than average, he said. The district’s main goal is to control the local mosquito population by preventing them from breeding. Turner said the districts’ work, which includes fogging and treating water sources with methoprene larvicide pellets, which kill the pests before they emerge as adults, has been going well. The district workers usually spray between 8 and 11 p.m. when the wind is not blowing. He said the fogging averages every other day due to sprayers getting “winded out.” Turner said the wind also is blowing the bugs in from outside of the district, which covers the Havre and surrounding areas.
Precautions that can be taken to help control the wee blood-suckers include eliminating water-trapping containers like old tires, barrels and septic tanks. In addition to being a pain in the neck or what other body part they choose to dine on mosquitoes are a great health concern, as several species are potential carriers of West Nile Virus Encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain that affects the nervous system and can cause death in humans and horses. Of 707 mosquitoes caught and sent for testing by the district, 40 were the type capable of carrying a virus, Turner said. Two other types of viruses can be found in Montana: Western Equine Encephalitis and St. Louis Encephalitis. A cup of water can cultivate 250 mosquitoes, Turner said. About 10,000 of the nuisances can grow in a five-gallon bucket, he added. Some varieties of the bothersome blood-drainers can hatch in as little as five days. In order to keep the pest population down, Turner said, residents should change birdbath water at least every week and more frequently during summer months; drill drainage holes in planters used outdoors; drain and change pets’ water dishes regularly; frequently check and drain covers and tarps such as those used on pools, Jacuzzis and garbage cans; and store containers that hold water like wading pools, wheelbarrows and buckets upside down or inside shelter. Depending on the species, mosquitoes need one of two conditions to develop: shallow, non-moving water accumulated in a container or standing water in a pond with debris and vegetation like large weeds. Some steps may be taken to reduce the number of mosquitoes in retention ponds, including managing weeds along the pond’s margins, removing debris from the pond, keeping drains, ditches and culverts clean to ensure proper drainage and shaping the pond’s edges to a sleep slope as mosquitoes prefer shallow pond edges.
To learn more about the efforts and what residents can do to help, visit the 2-year-old districts’ new Web site www.hillcountymosquito.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 265-5539.