Some residents of the community may have found an employee of the Turlock Mosquito Abatement District, rifling through a bush or tree near their home. Employees of the district are easily identified by their logo, a vectored image of a mosquito planted on top of the state of California. Do not be alarmed if you come across a mosquito abatement district employee near your yard; they are here to help.
According to their website, the district was formed in 1946, “to protect the health of residents from the transmission of mosquito borne viruses and provide relief from the nuisance of mosquitoes.” Over time, the district has expanded to cover the southern regions of Stanislaus County, which includes Patterson.
The programs that the district has implemented to help protect the community from these pestering bloodsuckers include biological control, physical control, mosquito surveillance and public outreach programs.
Biological control consists of natural mosquito eating enemies, like the mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis) being made available to the community, free of charge. Members of the community can visit the Abatement District in Turlock from May to October to pick up mosquitofish for any areas of their homes which may be holding fresh water (ponds, swimming pools and even smaller containers). These fish feed at the water’s surface, which makes larvae and young mosquitos particularly vulnerable.
The physical control program encourages citizens to fix leaky faucets, fill in holes where water may collect and stagnate, and eliminate neglected vegetation like weeds. Mosquitos do not need a lot of water to mature, so often it is the smaller neglected things in a person’s yard that will serve as incubators; old bottle caps, empty cans, sprinkler heads, tires, outside toys, plant saucers, and wheelbarrows are listed on the district’s website.
Community members are most likely to see district employees at work in their neighborhoods during the district’s mosquito surveillance program. The program includes collecting and studying dead birds for West Nile Virus.
“Employees are trying to access flooded areas to see where the adults are breeding, and we are trapping,” said Turlock Mosquito Abatement District General Manager, David Heft. “In the Patterson area most of the breeding is gonna come from the river area, so we’ll see those traps begin to increase first. Then we start to see the mosquitos going into town, and we have traps in town.”
Heft said that dealing with this year’s mosquito activity has been particularly difficult because of the increase of rain and snow. The late rain and snow caused for more water to be released from dams, which causes flooding in the river areas. In conjunction with the high temperatures, the increased flooding has created for thousands of acres of mosquito breeding grounds, but Heft feels that the worst is behind us.
“We’ve certainly been very busy, but levels have been going down steadily over the last few weeks, so we’re hoping that by next week things should be back to normal,” said Heft.
Heft also notes that the Aedes mosquito has seen a particular rise in population in our area. The most common mosquito, the dusk and dawn biters, usually come out in the evenings and early mornings to bite birds. However, the Aedes mosquitos attack mammals in the middle of the day, and are particularly attracted to humans.
The district plans to do an aerial application early next week in our area, and will post an update on their website soon to give an exact date and time. District officials says the aerial application is harmless to humans and pets.
“Our main thing that we want people to know is that we are here for public health, and we want to hear about their mosquito problems, and we are here to help them. A lot of times people don’t know if they should be calling us or not, but they should. We love getting calls, we love people telling us what is going on; we are here to serve the public,” said Heft.
Turlock Mosquito Abatement District recommends that the public reach out to them for anything that has to do with mosquitos, water, or dead birds. They want to inform the public on the types of mosquitoes that are going around; they want to give the public tips on how to stay safe, and they want to investigate dead birds in your neighborhood to check if they have been infected with mosquito-transmitted viruses like West Nile and Yellow Fever.
The Turlock Mosquito Abatement District is located at 4412 N. Washington Rd. Turlock. They are open Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and can be reached at 209-634-1243. For more information visit www.mosquitoturlock.com