Mosquito control sucks up budget

Mosquitos are sucking more than blood from taxpayers in the region this summer.

The Mosquito Control Program administered through the regional district is about 30 per cent over budget with a few weeks of the season still left to go.

“It’s been a very busy year and we’re bracing ourselves for an even busier year next year” Zoe Kirk, coordinator of the program said at Thursday’s Regional District Okangan-Similkameen meeting.

Although final numbers won’t come in until after September 1, at this point an additional $30,000 has been accrued by the program. Staff time and supplies used in each area is tracked and billed back to the specific municipality or area.

Staff used a helicopter five times this year to reach difficult to access or large standing bodies of water. Only three trips were budgeted for in 2017.

Kirk said each director would have to find a way to pay for the surplus for his or her area with funding most likely coming from reserves.

“It’s something we’re going to have to talk about at budget time because we’re anticipating another bad year in 2018 for mosquitos,” she said. “We may need to change the funding levels for that program. It isn’t something that seems to be diminishing.”

With the extreme flooding this year, the RDOS received additional calls for help from residents who had standing water on or near their property that needed to be treated.

Headed into the season, which starts in April, 300 properties were registered to have a larvicide granular sprayed into standing bodies of water.

“We received calls almost daily adding new properties to the list,” Kirk said.

Using backpacks the granular larvicide is sprayed into the waterways. The larvicide only effects filter feeders.

“Filter feeders are very unique in the insect world. There’s only mosquitos and black flies and if we kill off a few black flies then that’s OK too,” she said.

When consumed the larvicide crystallizes in the mosquito larva.

With a larger mosquito population this year, it means more eggs have been laid. Those eggs can last for more than a decade and only need to get wet to hatch.

“All we can do is wait to see how next year goes. We’re anticipating an ever larger need for the program,” she said.

 

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