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Crews keeping insects, West Nile Virus at bay

Dan Olsen

— Ninety days into the mosquito spraying program run by Moffat County, crews have yet to come across an insect infected with West Nile Virus.

Five pest technicians are currently on the prowl each day spraying the water for larva and fogging the air for flying adult mosquitoes.

“We started in April attacking the eggs and the larva in standing water,” county pesticide supervisor Grady Wilson said. “It’s looking like a pretty normal year. We got the airplane up for the Fourth of July holiday.”

Pilot Blaine Tucker, of Mountain Air Spray Company, performs aerial spraying for the county and the city, flying mostly evenings and mornings at crop-duster levels over the terrain.

The spray is non-toxic to humans, but people might want to go inside until spraying is concluded in the area, Tucker said.

On the ground, four county technicians attack the mosquitoes, while one-person tests for West Nile Virus.

That technician sets traps around the county, and tests the captured mosquitoes three or four times a week.

If a positive test is found, that area will be heavily sprayed the following days, along with an attack by the airplane on insects in the area.

A lack of moisture this summer has mosquito eggs hatching early, Wilson said.

“It’s pretty dry out there,” he said. “They’re hatching quicker. We fog at night in areas like Loudy Simpson Park and the golf course. That kills the flying adults in the air.”

The crews also spray for mosquitoes in Maybell and the surrounding areas. They usually work on the mosquito problem until the weather turns cooler in the fall.

They also don’t limit their exterminating to mosquitoes. Crews spend time eradicating Mormon Crickets and grasshoppers as well.

The larger insects are more problematic outside of town, and require different baits to attract them for extermination, Wilson said.

He said the public could do a great deal to help with the mosquito problem by emptying birdbaths and keeping water fresh. Any standing water, including that in old tires, should be eliminated as a source of water for insects.

Also key in fighting mosquitoes is individual protection, Wilson said.

“Wear bug screen, around dusk especially,” he said. “Long sleeve shirts are also good protection from mosquitoes.”


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