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Mosquito Awareness – Higher Mosquito Populations Expected to Rise



Mosquito Awareness – Higher Mosquito Populations Expected to Rise

Recent high-water flows on the Owens River out of Pleasant Valley reservoir have the potential to create a higher abundance of mosquitoes. We can expect to see larger numbers of adult mosquitoes in the Bishop and Big Pine areas over the next few weeks.

These mosquitoes are called the Aedes melanimon. They are a floodwater species which can become a significant pest, biting day and night. They lay their eggs in the mud along old riverbanks and oxbows. Once the eggs dry out and become conditioned, they can lie dormant in the soil for many years. When the Owens River exceeds over 400 cfs, it spills over into those old river channels and oxbows where these eggs have been lying dormant. When the temperatures are warm enough these mosquitoes will all hatch simultaneously, up into the billions per acre uncontrolled. Most of these mosquito sources are inaccessible to reach by ground treatments. Owens Valley Mosquito Abatement staff has been monitoring this and making larvicide treatments where possible. ULV fogging applications will be performed as necessary to prevent these mosquitoes from migrating into our local communities.

The Owens Valley Mosquito Abatement staff as well as public health officials urge residents to take preventive measures to protect themselves.  Some effective ways to avoid being bit include:

  • Keeping mosquitoes outside. Screen doors and windows where possible and check their condition occasionally.
  • Use Insect repellents.  Insect repellents reduce the chance of being bitten and will also generally repel ticks and other biting creatures. Use and follow the label of an EPA-registered insect repellent that includes one of the following active ingredients:
    • DEET
    • Picaridin
    • IR3535
    • Oil of lemon eucalyptus
    • Para-menthane-diol,
    • 2-undecanone.

EPA-registered insect repellents are proven to be safe and effective, even for pregnant and breastfeeding women when used as directed.  There appears to be no advantage to using DEET concentrations above 50%.  Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months old. Instead, dress them in clothing that covers their arms and legs, and use covers over strollers and baby carriers. Adults should spray insect repellent onto their hands and rub onto the child’s face. Do not apply repellent to children’s hands, eyes, mouth or irritated skin.

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants for additional protection.
  • Avoid being outside when mosquito activity is highest.

The Culex mosquitoes that can carry West Nile Virus are mostly active at dusk and dawn, so mosquito avoidance measures are particularly valuable at those times.

Additionally, you can do your part to help. According to Rob Miller, Program Supervisor with the Owens Valley Mosquito Abatement Program, “local mosquito abatement programs work to maintain lower mosquito populations using several methods, but good water management and prevention are the safest and easiest ways to manage threats posed by mosquitoes”.  Residents can help control these insects by eliminating pools of standing water used for breeding by mosquitoes around their yard and neighborhood.  Many mosquitoes do not fly very far so the mosquitoes plaguing your yard may be coming from nearby.  Check any areas that may contain standing water such as unmaintained swimming pools, old tires, buckets, wheelbarrows, and plugged drains.

Please report mosquito problems to the Owens Valley Mosquito Abatement Program by calling (760) 873-7853.  We are also happy to work with residents who are planning outdoor events during the summer to mitigate the risk of mosquitoes.  Please contact us to let us know when and where these events may be held.

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