It’s another sign of summer: squadrons of bloodthirsty mosquitoes rising from any accumulation of standing water.
And with this year’s record-setting runoff and spring rainfall, the resulting hatch of insects is sure to be big.
“We’re just getting ready for a good season for mosquitoes,” said Scott Anderson, Parks Division manager for the city of Rapid City. “With all the rain there’s going to be an abundance of them, I’m sure.”
City Parks division and Storm Water Drainage division crews are already placing briquets of mosquito larvaecide in areas of standing water around town.
The briquets keep the mosquito larvae from hatching into flying adults, which can spread potentially deadly diseases, including West Nile Virus, while putting the bite on humans and animals.
“We do what we can,” Anderson said. “But we’re not going to be out there and eliminate every mosquito in town.”
Once mosquitoes are reported in the air, however, the city could be scheduling operations for fogging chemical insecticides in city parks and neighborhoods as needed, possibly as early as this week.
If timed correctly, fogging is effective in killing most flying invertebrates, such as flies and mosquitoes, but also insects beneficial in pollinating gardens, such as bees.
The best time to fog is around dusk when mosquitoes become active and afternoon winds begin to calm. Crews won’t fog, Anderson said, during windy or rainy conditions.
“It does a pretty good job. It’s like a contact killer. The mosquitoes have to be flying and contact the fog for it to do any good,” Anderson said.
Those who maintain beehives or have other concerns with the fogging operations should keep track of any scheduled treatment operations through the City of Rapid City.
“When fogging begins, we will send out updates to the media and through our social media platforms, when and where the operations are taking place,” said Darrell Shoemaker, city communications coordinator.
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The city will also pre-emptively fog for mosquitoes in parks and other public areas a day or so in advance of scheduled events, such as athletic tournaments at Sioux Park or concerts at Memorial Park.
Private property owners are also encouraged to take action, eliminating standing water, especially in small areas, including old tires, and regularly changing water in birdbaths and garden fountains.
Chemical and garden supply stores sell sprays and larvaecide briquets for home use, Anderson said.
“If more people do that, the better off we’ll be too,” Anderson said.
For personal protection, use of mosquito repellent, wearing light-colored, long-sleeved shirts and long pants and avoiding being outdoors at dusk when peak mosquito activity occurs is recommended.
According to a release, the city has also applied for the Mosquito Control and West Nile Prevention Grant.
Anderson said the city has applied for $20,000 to be used for additional chemicals, updating machines and equipment. Grant awards are issued around July 1.
Shoemaker said there is no timetable for fogging to begin.
“Right now they’re doing the briquets, and we’ll see what the hatches are like,” he said.
The timing of the hatch depends on temperature and other weather conditions. Once it warms up a bit, as it has this week, mosquitoes can be up and flying — and biting — in no time.
Shoemaker recalls a bad mosquito outbreak a few years ago, when heavy snow fell around Mother’s Day.
“Within a week we had a huge hatch (of mosquitoes)," he said. “They were doing mosquito control with snowdrifts on the ground.”