Mosquito control work around Kamloops has concluded and the regional district’s contractor thinks Kamloops has a shot at a fairly mild year if the river water levels continue to recede.
BWP Consulting has held the mosquito control contract in the Thompson-Nicola Regional District for the past 21 years. The company started in 1996, first doing forest health work before bidding on the mosquito control contract in the TNRD in 1999.
The company’s owner, Cheryl Phippen, made herself into a mosquito expert and has been wrangling the bug in B.C. ever since.
Phippen said so far, it’s been a good year, with few concern calls and low counts of mosquitoes found in trap sites around the region.
“It just remains to be seen here over the next couple of weeks because of the flood waters,” she said.
As of Monday morning, Phippen and her 14 employees had completed treatment of the 450 known mosquito development sites in the TNRD. Those sites are mosquito larval habitats ranging from permanent ponds to depressions that fill up with water when rivers and creeks surge with spring runoff, such as old oxbows or fields.
To treat these sites, Phippen said larvicide is applied via helicopter, and anything that a pilot can’t reach is done by hand.
Treatment areas close to Kamloops include areas near Domtar and west to the water treatment plant on the south side of the river, an area near Cinnamon Ridge on the north side of the river and a “nasty trench” in the middle of Rabbit Island that often becomes loaded with larvae, according to Phippen.
Despite treatments nearby, Phippen said residents of Brocklehurst are likely to be the worst hit by mosquitoes, due to the Lac du Bois Grasslands Protected Area along the river, which cannot be treated with larvicide due to its status as a bird sanctuary.
“There is a lot of habitat out there that we aren’t allowed to treat. It’s kind of an imaginary line drawn in the dirt where we can’t treat,” Phippen said.
Martin Dickson, the TNRD environmental service co-ordinator, said treatments are typically done after the rivers have peaked.
“What we like to do is let the water get to its peak, and then it’ll flood and seep into as many low-lying areas as it can, and then when it starts to drop, it’s cut off from the river,” he said.
Dickson said the efficacy of the treatment depends on the rate at which the water comes down from the mountains.
“In a perfect year, you get that one peak, the water subsides, you hit those established sites and we’re done with it,” he said.
Once adult mosquitoes begin to emerge, the opportunity to control their population has passed, so Dickson encourages residents to report sites where they might emerge by calling the TNRD’s 24-hour mosquito advisory line at 250-372-5700.