Abundant spring runoff this year will mean an abundance of mosquitoes when temperatures heat up, according to Scott Bradshaw, manager of the Tooele Valley Mosquito Abatement District.
“With all the water we’ve had this winter and spring, there’s a whole lot of mosquito habitat out there,” Bradshaw said. “There are more ponds and a lot of standing water that hasn’t been there the past two years.”
The first nemesis the district and residents will confront will be the flood mosquito, Ochlerotatus dorsalus.
“With the flood mosquito, their eggs can lay dormant up to 10 years so all that water we have received will make a potential for lots and lots and lots of mosquitoes,” Bradshaw said. “When it starts getting warmer than 55 degrees, after a few days they will start hatching. With the cooler temperatures we’ve had this spring, it has kept the population in the grass away from us. But we should soon see all these flood mosquitoes.”
He added, “They can travel one mile a day up to about 25 miles. So they are hatching here in the wetland marshy area in the north of the district and then head towards the people.”
The district includes all of Tooele Valley, Stockton and Rush Valley, but excludes Tooele City.
Bradshaw said recent cold temperatures pose problems in killing mosquitoes.
“To combat the mosquitoes, it has to be warmer than 55 degrees and the wind has to be less than 5 mph,” he said. “So that has been a challenge this spring to get out there and do all the fogging that needs to be done.”
The district confronts the permanent water mosquito, Culex Tarsalis, later in the summer.
“There will be more permanent water this year, so there will be more permanent water mosquitoes as well,” Bradshaw said.
The Culex Tarsalis is the major mosquito species responsible for the transmission of West Nile Virus to humans, as well as Western and St. Louis Encephalitis that affect horses and humans, according to information from the Utah Mosquito Abatement Association.
Females overwinter and begin to be active in the spring, feeding mostly on birds. Multiple broods produce larvae from spring to fall. Host preference changes as summer progresses and females feed heavily on mammals.
Another nuisance in the spring are tiny gnats. Bradshaw said he has received calls this year about an abundance of gnats or noseums or body flies.
“They have been horrible this year. They’re a challenge and our chemicals just don’t kill them because they are too small,” he said. “Fortunately, they have a short-lived cycle. Somebody who had just moved to Tooele County called me a few weeks ago and said they were ready to pick up and move because of the gnats. I told them they would be gone soon and they were quite relieved that they didn’t have to move.”
Lake Point, Stansbury and Grantsville have been infested with gnats in recent days. Students at Old Mill Elementary in Stansbury confronted large clusters of gnats toward the end of the school year and moved inside instead of playing outside during recess, Bradshaw said.
He said people should call the district at 435-843-3100 to report where they are confronting mosquitoes, but they will need to be patient because many calls are expected.
“We have 14 surveillance traps. So we base where we go to spray in the evening off those trap numbers and from resident requests,” Bradshaw said.
People can also do their part by dumping water out of buckets or wheelbarrows or bird baths or other containers on their properties, he said.