Mosquito season is around the corner, and Rocky View County (RVC), in partnership with Prairie Environmental Services, will once again offer a workshop May 8 from 6 to 7 p.m. at the Bearspaw Lions Club to educate residents on managing the nuisance insects.
According to Danielle Grant, president of Prairie Environmental Services, the workshop will cover topics including how to recognize mosquito habitats and how to identify juvenile mosquito larva in water bodies.
“Usually, when RVC puts on one of these mosquito workshops, they’re looking to educate landowners on how to mitigate and reduce their adult mosquito populations on their properties,” Grant said.
Prairie Environmental Services has partnered with RVC to offer the annual workshop on mosquito mitigation for the past four years, and Grant said the workshop is always well received.
“I think most residents that come to the workshops are looking for a solution and looking for something they can do on their own property,” she said. “I think they’re open to any suggestions.”
The most effective way to mitigate mosquitoes, Grant said, is to ensure bodies of water are an unsuitable environment for larvae by clearing away organic matter.
“Water bodies on property that are high in organic matter or small enough that they get warm quite quickly, those are ideal locations for adult mosquitoes to lay their eggs,” she said.
Water with a high concentration of organic material serves as an abundant food source for mosquito larvae, she noted. Removing the food source eliminates the young insects, ending the pesky problem before it begins.
Besides ditches and depression areas on lawns, Grant said, people often forget to look for water collecting in places like old tires, wheelbarrows and birdbaths, which can be a prime location for mosquitoes. Draining as much water as possible is a great first step to reduce the mosquito population on your property, she added.
Mosquitoes can also be managed by ensuring grass is cut, Grant added, which encourages adult insects to find a new place to live.
“Lots of people like to keep their grass long…but that is the ideal location for adult mosquitoes to spend their days when our days get really hot,” she said. “They like that long grass [and] shaded, forested areas.”
While Grant said pesticides can be safe and effective when applied correctly, managing mosquitoes in a biologically-sound manner has the benefit of targeting only the pests and not impacting other beneficial insect species.
According to Grant, mitigating mosquitoes is important not only because the insects are a nuisance – there are underlying health reasons to reduce mosquito populations. Mitigating the insects helps control the spread of the West Nile virus, she said.
“Also, residents have an issue with [mosquitoes],” Grant said. “When you’re dealing with these areas like Bearspaw [and] Langdon, with high water tables and lots of groundwater, they’re having an issue with them and, ideally, you want to make your residents happy to live in your municipality.”