Mosquitoes appear across county

Extension agent suggests eliminating standing water or using larvicide

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Tips for fighting mosquitoes

Mosquito Management

Around the Home

- Eliminate standing water in low spots, ditches, gutters and similar areas.

- Empty weekly or remove receptacles that collect rainwater (bird baths, old tires).

- Mosquito netting and tight screens can provide mosquito-free areas.

- Some mosquitoes are attracted to lights. Reduce unnecessary lighting to make yards less attractive to mosquitoes.

- "Bug zappers" do not reduce mosquito landing or biting. They attract and kill many insects but few are mosquitoes that attack humans. Many of the insects killed are beneficial because they feed on garden pests.

- Ultrasonic devices, such as those that claim to mimic dragonflies, do not affect mosquito activity.

- Light-colored clothing is less attractive to adult mosquitoes. Tightly woven fabrics give some protection against biting.

- Citronella and Avon Skin So Soft can be used for short periods of relief. Some naphthalene products (such as Mosquito Beater) can be broadcast in yards for temporary relief from adult mosquitoes.

- Adult mosquitoes rest in shrubbery and other shaded areas during the day. These areas can be treated with approved insecticides. Foggers for flying insects can also be used, but will provide only short-term relief. Various aerosol insecticides are available for controlling mosquitoes indoors.

To control mosquitoes

on irrigated farms:

- schedule water delivery to avoid excess watering,

- reduce or eliminate vegetation and debris in ditches and other water containment structures

- eliminate mosquito habitats in impoundments. Fill or drain water-holding areas, and fill or deepen shallow areas preferred by mosquito larvae.

Source: Colorado State University Extension Office Web site

— Mosquitoes are buzzing thickly in some spots across Routt County, and they might get worse this summer.

The county doesn't monitor mosquito numbers, Extension Agent CJ Mucklow said. The insects typically become more populous as the weather warms during summer, he said. The county doesn't spray for mosquitoes, nor does the city of Steamboat Springs. Hayden does aerial spraying occasionally.

"I've been to some places that are awful already," Mucklow said.

Rob Kozar, operations manager for Colorado Mosquito Control, said his company has been hired to spray in Steamboat subdivisions in the past. The frequent rain could help or hurt the battle against mosquitoes, he said. Moving water can wash away larva, but stagnant water is where mosquitoes hatch.

"The more water you have, generally speaking, the more mosquitoes you'll have unless you can inspect and larvicide those sites," Kozar said.

Steamboat could avoid a rapid mosquito development, however, if temperatures stay low.

"Out here on the Front Range, it seems to have stopped raining, at least as much as we've had in weeks past, and temperatures are slowly getting up there into the 80s and even low 90s," Kozar said. "If that continues, you're going to see hatch-offs."

Besides being pesky, mosquitoes transmit diseases such as West Nile virus. Routt County has treated standing water in the past to kill members of the Culex species, a primary carrier of West Nile, but Mucklow said the county wasn't doing so this year.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists one human case of West Nile virus in the United States so far this year. A person in South Dakota suffered from a fever after contracting the disease.

According to the CDC, "West Nile encephalitis and West Nile -meningitis are forms of severe disease that affect a person's nervous system. Encephalitis refers to an inflammation of the brain, meningitis is an inflammation of the membrane around the brain and the spinal cord."

West Nile virus isn't in its throes yet. Cases start appearing in larger numbers late June through July and August, Kozar said. The virus also affects animals including horses.

"Your horse should be vaccinated already, but if you haven't, you should certainly vaccinate your horse for West Nile," Mucklow said.

He encouraged people to get rid of standing water or treat it with larvicide. He recommended BTI, or Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis. BTI is a naturally occurring soil bacterium registered for control of mosquito larvae, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Mucklow said he expected mosquitoes to be as bad as or worse than previous years. They also could appear in locations that have been relatively mosquito-free because of new standing water, he said.

"Mosquitoes need standing dead water for the larvae to hatch, and given the rain, we have more standing dead water," Mucklow said. "And we don't have any more people doing larvicide, so we should expect more mosquitoes."

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