Battling the skeeters
“We spend a lot of money for mosquito spraying, but I don’t know if it’s working.”
Those were the words of Winnebago city councilman Paul Eisenmenger. The council member stated he noticed a large infestation of the pests, both out in the countryside, as well as in his yard, where he was “eaten alive by mosquitos.”
The topic of mosquito control was brought up at the last Winnebago City Council meeting on Tuesday, July 10. Although the council took no action on the matter, the overall effectiveness of mosquito spraying came into question during the discussion.
“I almost have a feeling that not enough spray is being used, or maybe the mosquitoes are even becoming immune to it. Maybe we need to switch to a different chemical,” Eisenmenger added.
According to Winnebago city administrator Chris Ziegler, the annual city budget for mosquito control stands at $6,000, the same amount which the city of Wells spends on mosquito control each year. Winnebago is in the last year of a three-year agreement with Mosquito Control of Iowa, the same company which sprays for the city of Blue Earth.
While Ziegler was pleased with the results of mosquito control efforts during recent outdoor summer events at the Bago Fun Fest, he indicated the difficulty in collecting evidence to gauge the effectiveness of mosquito spraying in specific areas is a concern.
“I think it is good to make the effort to spray, because in general, it makes residents feel better if you are at least trying to solve the problem,” Ziegler says.
Meanwhile, Wells city administrator CJ Holl steadfastly endorses the use of chemical spray to curb the mosquito population. Depending on weather conditions, Holl says the city will sometimes use chemical spray twice a week. Unlike in Winnebago and Blue Earth, mosquito spraying in Wells is handled by city staff.
“We have major park and picnic areas in town, so mosquito control is very important to us,” Holl says. “It has been a very wet year, so we’ve been spraying more than usual, and I think it has made a big difference.”
Like Holl, Blue Earth city administrator Tim Ibisch is also happy with his town’s mosquito control efforts. Ibisch says the city of Blue Earth spends $15,000 per year on mosquito control.
Ibisch explains the typical mosquito spraying season begins around the end of May, or Memorial Day, and will conclude towards Labor Day in early September. Due to an extended wet season, Blue Earth has already sprayed more for mosquitoes this summer than they did all of last summer.
“The weather obviously impacts how often we spray, but we probably do it once every 10 days or so, and we make sure to let citizens know when the next spraying will take place,” Ibisch says. “It’s definitely a balancing act, but so far, I don’t think we’ve had any issues with it.”
The Iowa-based pest control group, which is utilized by both Winnebago and Blue Earth, sprays for the two most common species of mosquitoes in the midwest region of the United States; the aedes vexan, an inland floodwater insect, and culex pipiens, a blood feeding breed of mosquito which has been known to spread the West Nile virus.
While ground adulticiding is usually utilized at night to control the adult population of mosquitoes, larviciding is used to kill the growth and development of younger mosquitoes. Storm sewer treatment, as well as barrier and perimeter control measures are used in specific mosquito-prone habitats such as parks, ditches and baseball fields.
As long as rainy conditions continue in Faribault County this summer, the mosquito problem may continue to bug city administrators, and residents alike.