A cold, rainy spring and high river levels have led to ideal conditions for breeding mosquitoes this summer in Maple Ridge and the Fraser Valley.
“The high flood level this year has left a lot of standing water, and that makes a lot more mosquito habitat,” said Scott McMahon, project manager with Culex Environmental, which operates the District of Maple Ridge’s mosquito control program.
McMahon said the district’s nuisance mosquito hotline has been ringing off the hook this past month. Residents can call the hotline to report stagnant water on their property, and Culex will respond within 48 hours to treat it with a natural bacterial larvicide to kill any mosquito larvae before they hatch.
While the number of mosquitoes is higher than normal this summer, the mosquitoes that are experiencing a population explosion aren’t the kind that carry West Nile Virus.
“Typically the mosquitoes that result from flood waters aren’t vectors of West Nile Virus,” said McMahon.
To avoid getting bit by mosquitoes, McMahon recommends wearing loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing, using a DEET-based insect repellent, and avoid being outside at dawn or dusk, when mosquitoes are most active.
There were no cases of locally acquired cases of West Nile anywhere in B.C. in 2011, and Fraser Health wants that trend to continue.
“The best way to reduce mosquito bites and the risk of West Nile is to help limit the number of mosquitoes in the first place,” said Glen Embree, Manager, Environmental Health Services. “You can prevent mosquito breeding by getting rid of any standing water on your property.”
Common culprits are water in flower pots, in garbage can lids, in empty bottles on sundecks, and in children’s toys and patio furniture that have been sitting outside all year.
Most people who become infected with West Nile do not have any symptoms, but about 20 per cent will experience flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, body aches, nausea, rash, swollen glands and sensitivity to light. About one in 150 infected people experience serious illness.
• To report stagnant water on your property, call the Nuisance Mosquito Control Hotline at 604-872-1912.