Pesky mosquitoes won't have an easy go of it this summer in Brandon — they'll have tough new city guidelines to deal with.
It won’t be long before mosquitoes make their annoying reappearance in Brandon — but the city is ready if they become unbearable.
City of Brandon parks department employee Cale Gushulak scoops up pond water from a clearing on Hilton Avenue while looking for mosquito larvae last year. The city will double the amount of employees it tasks with killing mosquito larvae this year. (COLIN CORNEAU/BRANDON SUN)
A city fogging truck makes a sweep through a residential neighbourhood in the southwest section of the city last year. The decision on whether or not to fog has been given more clarity and will no longer need approval from city council. (BRUCE BUMSTEAD/BRANDON SUN)
New guidelines are now in place for mosquito control, which include clear direction on things like field staff numbers and trigger points to initiate fogging,
Perry Roque, the city’s director of community services, presented the report on the 2014 mosquito abatement program to council Tuesday night.
"We are going to increase the number of staff out larviciding standing water," Roque said. "We had two, we’re going to have four this year … which we hope will reduce an emergence of mosquitos in the city."
The program uses larval control methods for the control of mosquitos.
"Every attempt is made to ensure that few mosquitoes reach adulthood within the city limits," states the guideline document. "High rainfall amounts, together with the high temperatures and/or mosquito migration into the city from outside of the control zone, may result in mosquito populations becoming intolerable."
Last summer, mosquitoes did become intolerable when trap numbers soared to 1,192 on July 8, a dramatic increase from the July 1 count of just 73.
City council received criticism for its slow response to the situation. Members of the public were calling on council to fog with malathion.
At that time, the policy stated that fogging may be done once the Adulticiding Factors Analysis reaches 15 points. It left it up to city staff and the mosquito abatement control committee to make the decision.
City administration did not recommend fogging at the time, but due to the public outcry, the issue was brought to council to make the decision.
After a lengthy debate, council ultimately decided to fog for nuisance mosquitoes once last summer.
In the new guidelines, fogging will be conducted when the AFA category falls into and remains in the high category (15-18) or when all trap counts average more than 1,000, or if any traps are more than 2,000.
"It will be the administration working group that will monitor everything and then once we feel there’s a need for us to spray … then we would go ahead and do that," Roque said. "There wouldn’t be the need to come back to council."
The program is a joint initiative of the city and Brandon University.
The city hopes to improve its communication strategy when dealing with mosquito issues, by including the director of communications on the committee. There will also be a separate webpage set up on brandon.ca as part of the communication plan.
"Numbers of mosquitoes in traps, along with the frequency of counts (biweekly), will be one of the guidelines to help initiate the fogging process with little to no delays," states the report. "These thresholds have been established from past years trap counts which reflected concerns in the community in relation to mosquitos."
Residents can register with the city for a buffer zone of 90 metres for nuisance mosquito fogging. This year, they must give proof of occupancy. The buffer zone will not be applicable if the province issues a culex tarsalis mosquito order, which is the species that carries West Nile virus, as it becomes a health concern.
» Twitter: @jillianaustin
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition April 23, 2014