A request from the city of Craig has the Moffat County Pest Management Department scheduling an aerial spraying for mosquitoes nearly two weeks earlier than it normally would.
The spraying began today and could last through Wednesday.
The areas above Loudy-Simpson Park and the Yampa Valley Golf Course already have been sprayed, but full coverage of the town has been requested.
The city budgeted twice what it normally does for spraying this year in the face of West Nile virus -- which officials expect to be worse this year than it was last year.
Normally, the pest management department contracts for only one citywide aerial attack a year, which takes place shortly before the Fourth of July weekend. City officials requested the first spraying begin earlier in response to the number of complaints received from residents about mosquitoes.
Bruce Johnson, Moffat County Pest Management employee, said he's a little leery about spraying so early.
"We'll see how this holds," he said. "I really didn't want to do it
He said the flood waters that caused the increase in the number of mosquitoes have not fully receded yet, therefore the aerial attack -- which kills only adult mosquitoes -- may not be that effective.
Johnson's crew is treating standing water along the river with a larvicide in the hope of preventing as many mosquito births as possible and fog nearly every night along the river and drainage ditches.
"The guys are working real hard to get them," he said.
Johnson said he also wanted to wait until the first of the culex mosquitoes -- which carry the Vest Nile virus -- have hatched.
Culex mosquitoes are warmer water mosquitoes, so they have not hit their peak yet.
Johnson said the biggest infestation of mosquitoes he's seen is west of Sunbeam near the river. He said his pant legs were coated with mosquitoes and they blackened the windows on his vehicle.
The town of Maybell will be covered once this year from the air but that flight has not yet been scheduled.
A chemical called Malathion is used from the air to kill adult mosquitoes.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Malathion has been registered for use in the United States since 1956.
"When applied in accordance with the rate of application and safety precautions specified on the label, Malathion can be used to kill mosquitoes without posing unreasonable risks to humans health or the environment," states a pesticide fact sheet published by the EPA.
"Because of the very small amount of active ingredient released per acre of ground," it goes on to state, "the estimates found that for all scenarios considered, exposures were hundreds or even thousands of times below an amount that might pose a health concern."
At high doses, Malathion can over stimulate the nervous system causing nausea, dizziness or confusion.
Malathion used on mosquito control programs does not pose unreasonable risks to wildlife or the environment, according to the EPA.
"It's probably the most widely used pesticide for adult mosquito abatement in the nation," CSU Moffat County Cooperative Extension Agent John Balliette said. "There's a little risk with everything we do, but you have to weigh the benefits."
For more information of Malathion and mosquito control:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- National Pesticide Information
- America Mosquito Control Association
- Environmental Protection Agency