Officials are warning residents not to be alarmed by small holes popping up in area trees. It's a sign the cicadas are back.
"Our seven-year cicadas are back," said C.J. Mucklow, director of the Colorado State University Cooperative Extension Service Office in Routt County. "They make their appearance like clockwork every seven years."
Mucklow said the cicadas, which have large bodies, wings and "make weird noises," make the holes in the trees to lay their eggs. The cicadas don't seem to eat foliage or cause any other damage, he said.
A Routt County resident brought Mucklow two dead cicadas she found and wanted to know what to do about them.
"Unfortunately there isn't a lot you can do about it," he said. "It's just going to be a buggy summer."
On the 'Net
For more information about West Nile virus and tips to protect yourself, visit the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment at www.cdphe.state.c...>
Steamboat Springs Public health officials are encouraging residents to protect themselves against the deadly West Nile virus by wearing bug repellent and ridding areas of stagnant water.
Heather Savalox, an environmental health specialist with the Routt County Department of Environmental Health, said wearing long-sleeved shirts, pants, socks and shoes when outside at dawn and dusk as well as bug repellent that contains DEET is one of the best ways to stay free of pesky mosquito bites.
"What we really tell people is to wear some kind of repellent when you're outside," she said. "That's really the biggest helper."
Removing areas of stagnant water that build up in flower planters, tires, pools, water troughs and other areas is important, too, she said.
Savalox said she has not received any calls from residents complaining of a larger mosquito presence than in previous years, but she said recent wet conditions could promote a longer breeding season.
"I think they've been out for a few weeks now, it's just that they're reaching a more noticeable level," she said.
Routt County officials will collect mosquito samples for the fourth annual mosquito surveillance study, which tests the insects for West Nile virus.
West Nile is a virus that emerged in Colorado in the late 1990s. The virus is carried by birds and is transmitted to people from mosquitoes that have fed on the blood of infected birds.
Savalox said people who find dead birds such as crows, ravens, magpies or jays should bring the birds to the Routt County Department of Environmental Health so they can be tested for the disease.
There were no reported cases of West Nile in Routt County in 2006. Statewide, there were 345 reported cases of West Nile in 2006. In 2005, there were 106 reported cases, and in 2004, there were 291 reported cases.
Steve Hilley, the emergency preparedness coordinator for the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association, said residents should be cautious. West Nile "is still out there," he said. "It's still a concern, and something we test for."
Hilley said those infected by the disease would have symptoms similar to influenza or other viruses including headache, fever, malaise, dehydration and weakness.
Protecting children from mosquito bites is critical, he said.
"You have to protect them because they don't know or don't understand what diseases mosquitoes are carrying," he said.