District to boost mosquito control budget

High water creates uncertainty as to location of larvae.

Sicamous council is bracing for another bad mosquito year.

Last week, council instructed staff to find $50,000 in this year’s budget to put towards additional mosquito control if there is need.

“We feel we’ll need the extra money to continue the program,” commented district works service manager Grady MacDonald.

High water was a key factor behind last year’s mosquito outbreak  – considered by many as one of the worst the district has seen in years. This year, the levels in Mara and Shuswap lakes have well-exceeded last year’s high mark, flooding new areas that haven’t been flooded in decades.

“Last year we had a high water situation; this year it’s a state of emergency,” says Cheryl Phippen of BWP Consulting, the company contracted by the district to run its mosquito control program. “They’re not even in the same league. This is so much worse.”

Phippen says the water has overflowed berms, is seeping up into fields and in areas that haven’t been reached for years.

“As water comes up it wets the eggs, and the water has just gotten so huge now we’ve been continuously treating the edges… For five to eight days,” says Phippen. “We’ve been treating all of them as it creeps up. Now the water is so massive, we’re really having a hard time finding larvae. So what do you treat? You know they have to be there, but where? It’s a lake.”

Along with her ground crews, Phippen said Thursday, June 21, that two helicopters have already been over Sicamous for aerial applications of larvicide, and she was expecting a third aerial application that day. But one the challenges facing Phippen is not knowing where the high water will bring out new hatches of mosquitoes.

“There’s lot of locals stopping our staff and saying, ‘There’s water here; did you know about the water here?’ Which is helpful right now. Because, the sites that we have mapped, they’re blown out and flowing and now there’s this water that’s never been mapped… and it’s warm water, and if it’s a field, it’s shallow, and those mosquitoes are developing super fast,” says Phippen. “If anyone is finding this seepage water in their fields, give us a call immediately, don’t wait. Don’t call after the adults are out; that’s too long. We need to know the water is there and we need to know in the next few days to get the larvae treated.”

Residents needing to get in contact with BWP can reach them toll-free at 1-879-679-8473.

Trouton said he would be surprised if the district sees a repeat of last year. He said the contractor has been hitting areas with larvicide that haven’t touched in past years, and continues to do so.

“It’s not like they’re waiting like they were before,” says Trouton of the dormant mosquito larvae that could potentially hatch with the flooding. “They’ve already been treated.”

Phippen says her crew will keep working at it, but with the high water, it’s difficult to say for sure which way things will go.

“We’ve done everything we can, we’re not really finding larvae,” says Phippen. “Which could be a good thing or it could be that it’s just too big to find them. So we’ll find out in the next couple of weeks.”