The buzz on this year’s mosquito crop

Summer and wet weather bring mosquitoes, particularly around Lake Dunmore and in the floodplains of the Otter Creek. This is why, in the late 1970s, Art Doty and others formed an Insect Control District to mitigate the mosquitoes. The organization has changed over the years; Goshen, Pittsford, and Proctor later joined the original trio of Brandon, Leicester, and Salisbury.

Anyone interested in exploring its activities and recommendations should check the website.

This spring has not been as wet as last year’s, and our operations coordinator also reported seeing little fish and many frogs in the pools in floodplains such as the Pomaineville WMA between Pittsford and Brandon. This is good news: It means the flood-plain ecosystem is recovering and developing a population of creatures who view mosquito larvae as food. This may reduce the need for treatment in some areas.

There have also been changes in personnel and policy at the State level, in the Agency of Agriculture that regulates the use of pesticides and oversees the OCWICD. Last year, their concern for advance notification before adulticiding treatments led the State to require a schedule of treatment. Weather, however, is not subject to human scheduling, and the result was that many parts of the members towns were under-treated because the weather did not allow treatment on their scheduled days. This year, the scheduling requirement has been dropped, but the thresholds and frequency testing have been adjusted. 

Treatment for larviciding (i.e. the use of biological agents in the water) and adulticiding (the spraying at ultra-low volume of chemicals that kill adult mosquitoes) both require sampling before treatment. OCW personnel go out to designated locations to leave traps (for 24 hours) or to capture larvae in the water with dip-nets and mosquitoes in the air with larger nets. The state has also required the district to equip its trucks with flow meters to measure and modify the rate of spraying according to the speed of the truck.

The district is very grateful to the Lake Dunmore Fern Lake Association for a grant that covered the cost of this equipment. The district is now prepared to start treatment as conditions allow.

It is worth repeating — people can also do much to reduce their exposure to mosquitoes and to protect themselves on their own. Remove or treat all sources of standing water around your houses — this includes things such as birdbaths, tires and gutters. Larvicidal products for garden features are readily available at most hardware stores. Spray the clothing you wear outside the house with a product such as permethrin (that also protects against ticks) and use long-sleeved shirts and long pants. Adult mosquitoes are most active in the evening (which is why the OCD sprays at that time). More such information is available on the OCW website. It is also provided by Town Health Officers through town newsletters and on town websites.

At this time, anyone who wishes not to be sprayed should have informed the district of that preference. Notices were published in newspapers and in some Front Porch Forums. If you haven’t, informed the district, please do so promptly.

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