Mosquito season is nearly here, and the Colusa Mosquito Abatement District’s control measures for the City of Colusa and surrounding areas are set to kick off by the end of this month.
District manager David Whitesell is asking residents to do their part by inspecting their homes and yards thoroughly and to remove any standing water that may allow mosquito production.
“This is a very important part of helping reduce mosquito numbers,” Whitesell said in a press release. “Water is necessary for three of the four life stages of the mosquito… In the summer, the four stages of the mosquito life cycle may require as few as three to four days, while in cooler periods of the year, they require several weeks to become adults.”
The District’s control measures will only take place within the boundaries of the District, which includes the town of Colusa and outlying areas around the town. Regular control will not start early because of budget restraints. Adult mosquito control will be conducted by aircraft in the wetland and duck club areas within the District. The spray program will use Environmental Protection Agency registered mosquito control materials. The District has placed larvicides in the catch basins throughout Colusa. Catch basins that maintain standing water can be a major source of urban mosquitoes.
Common standing water sources found around residences include fish ponds, bird baths, tin cans, water cans, saucers under potted plants, old tires, clogged roof gutters, abandoned pools and boats, ornamental ponds, watering troughs, rain barrels, street gutters, house cooler units, tree holes, leaking faucets and water in basements or under the house. Because of the heavy rainfall and large amounts of seepage this year, pumping of basements will be particularly important as mosquito season approaches.
“We’re really asking people to pay attention to what is going on in the basement, and to remove any standing water due to seepage,” Whitesell said.
If any standing water situation is too large for a resident to correct, they should contact the district for help in resolving the problem. The District will once again be offering a limited number of mosquito fish to residents within the district’s boundaries. Residents should call in advance and bring their own containers for transportation.
The Mosquito Abatement District is also asking residents to refrain from over-watering their lawns to the point that water will run off into street gutters and remain standing.
West Nile Watch
The Mosquito Abatement District requests that people refrain from over watering their lawns to the extent that water will run off into the street gutters and remain standing. Any of these standing water situations may be reduced by the home resident. If any problem is too large for the resident to correct, they may call the District for help in resolving the problem.
The District does have a limited amount of mosquito fish available to residents within the District boundaries. Anyone wishing to receive fish is asked to call the District in advance and to bring their own containers for transportation.
Also, the District will again be using the State’s dead bird program. The public is asked to call the dead bird hotline #877-WNV-Bird (877) 968-2473 if they find a dead bird. If the hot line accepts the bird, District personnel will pick the bird up to be tested if this bird is within the District boundaries. If positive for West Nile virus, the zip code will be shut down and no further testing will be conducted.
Human and horses are all susceptible to WNV along with the bird population. A vaccine is available for the horse owner and is highly recommended as infected horses have nearly a 50% mortality rate. No vaccine is available as yet for humans. Of people infected by WNV, about 80% show no symptoms whatsoever. About 20% have West Nile fever, developing common flu like symptoms: nausea, fever, body aches, mild skin rash, and swollen lymph nodes. West Nile fever can be very debilitating with recovery taking weeks or months. WNV can be severe in the elderly and those with low immune systems. Rarely, an individual can develop serious illness including encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain. If you have symptoms of high fever, severe headaches, and/or stiffness, please seek medical attention.
The District has informational material available to the public upon request at the District Office 713 D Street, Colusa. If there are questions, the public may contact the District office at (530) 458-4966.
To protect yourself from the WNV, there are a number of preventative measures that can be taken:
Avoid spending time outside when mosquitoes are most active, especially at dawn and dusk
When outdoors at dawn and dusk wear long pants and long sleeve shirts
Apply insect repellent containing DEET according to label instructions.
Make sure that doors and windows have tight fitting screens. Repair or replace screens that have tears or holes.
Anopheles freeborni: Winter biters
The Colusa Mosquito Abatement District received some questions as to why some mosquitoes are out on these warm winter days.
The mosquito, Anopheles freeborni, a spring and fall mosquito, over winters as an adult mosquito. After hibernation for several months, the mosquitoes obviously become very hungry and, therefore, emerge for short periods of time to feed and take a blood meal. They usually come out when the temperature reaches about 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit. These types of mosquitoes do not multiply this time of year. Instead, they feed and return to their hibernation shelters. They are also not common carriers of any Encephalitis or West Nile Virus.
Due to the short activity time of this mosquito, weather conditions, and accessibility to the target area, the District is unable to implement control measures at this time of the year.
Many people think that now because of the visually high water, they are being produced from this water. This is not true, due to the water temperature and water movement. The District will be seeing a population influx coming from this water in the near future, at which time the District’s spray program will be implemented. .
The District spray program is ready after a busy offseason in the winter months, spent overhauling, repairing, and building new equipment for the upcoming mosquito season.