Mosquito populations appear average despite wet spring

By Jill Sperling
May 26, 2017 - 4:30pm Updated: May 26, 2017 - 6:27pm

KAMLOOPS — It's the time of year when nuisance mosquitoes begin to emerge, feeding on unsuspecting humans and animals. 

The blood-sucking insects are known to carry harmful diseases, but it is merely their annoying nature that is most concerning in B.C.

Currently, more than 300 mosquito habitats across the North Thompson Valley are being monitored and treated for mosquito larvae, before the insect has a chance to bite. 

Corncob granules coated with a mosquito-killing bacteria are blasted across bodies of stagnant water, the ideal breeding ground for the pesky insect. 

"The bacteria comes off into the water, the mosquitoes ingest that bacteria, and it causes ulcers in their stomach," explained Cheryl Phippen, owner of BWP Consulting. 

Phippen, whose business is the mosquito control contractors for the Thompson Nicola Regional District, says the spray is harmful only to mosquitoes in the larvae stage. 

With each female mosquito laying up to 100 eggs at a time, time is of the essence. 

"You only have that short window where mosquitoes are still in the water that you can treat them," Phippen said, "so we're basically just on the ground running, trying to get them all before they pupate."

Although many small creeks around the province have been flooding this spring, Phippen says the mosquito population in the TNRD has remained fairly normal for this time of year. 

"We could expect some big water in the next few days with the forecast of 30 degree weather, which will of course change things for us, but at present we're looking pretty average."

In fact, mosquito season started off slower than normal. 

"This spring was awfully cold," Phippen explained, "so we didn't start looking until just after Easter, and even then the mosquito larvae were really slow and really tiny when we got started this year."

The mosquito species found in the Kamloops area are known transmitters of the West Nile Virus, but so far the concern is fairly low. 

"We just so far haven't seen the virus here," Phippen said. "In terms of other world-wide viruses: Dengue Virus, Zika Virus, which we're hearing a lot about, we don't have the mosquito that transmits those viruses, so at this point we're not really concerned about them as a health issue for British Columbians."

Property owners can prevent mosquito infestations in their own yards by regularly dumping out any standing water.

"Any buckets in your garden, any birdbaths, things like that that contain water, you just want to be dumping them out once a week."

Phippen and her team will continue their mosquito treatment on the ground, and by helicopter until after the final peak of the North Thompson, which is typically in early July. 

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