West Nile virus surveillance starts as Saskatoon mosquito counts dip

Saskatoon residents have been doing a little less swatting and slapping this summer. The annual return of mosquitoes hasn’t been as bad as in years past but city officials say you’ll still want to be prepared as the risk of West Nile climbs over the next few weeks.

“To date they’ve been right on our five year average or a little bit low,” said Jeff Boone, the city’s supervisor of pest management.

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    According to Boone, the number of mosquitoes per trap, per week has mostly been in the single digits.

    In the spring, city crews began to control the population at it’s aquatic life stage.

    “We target the larval stage of mosquitoes, it’s much more effective to target the larval stages because the larval are isolated to the water bodies so we use a biological insecticide on the water to help kill immature mosquitoes.”

    Plus, Boone said timely rains have helped for small skeeter numbers in Saskatoon.

    “The nice thing is our rains have been fairly evenly spaced out so they’ve had an opportunity for our crews to get in there and treat any standing water and then also there’s been a certain amount of drying between each rain event,” he said.

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    Although there aren’t as many mosquitoes to swat and slap away, the risk of West Nile virus is still there.

    “We’ve seen Culex tarsalis, the mosquito that vectors the West Nile virus but in very, very low numbers.”

    The threat is about to increase as the number of mosquitoes carrying the virus typically peaks on August long weekend.

    Health Canada recommends using insect repellents that contain DEET and cover exposed skin to prevent mosquito bites. City officials say residents can also assist in reducing mosquito populations by simply eliminating standing water on your property.

     “Reducing standing water is a huge benefit to us because, standing water can allow mosquitoes to develop in as little as four days,” Boone said.

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    According to other experts, mosquitoes can lay eggs in as little as two ounces of water and over a thousand eggs can be laid in one cup of water over a season.

    “So removing any standing water from the backyards is very, very helpful, also netting surfaces where you can’t remove standing water like rain barrels, making sure eaves-troughs are clean. All of that helps to reduce the mosquito population,” Boone added.

    West Nile Virus Overview | HealthGrove

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