Saturday, August 15, 2020

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Tribal Prairie Management Program to initiate Mosquito Abatement treatments

The Tribal Prairie Management Program (PMP) has initiated mosquito abatement treatment. The program is taking an integrated pest management (IPM) approach that will be attacking the mosquito at all stages of their life cycle. The Aedes vexans, or flood mosquito eggs laid last fall have set the stage for a large June infestation which should decrease as that generation dies. The past rainfall did some mosquito control by knocking down and drowning some adults and washing eggs downstream. Surveillance trapping is catching none to few mosquitos but they are out and hungry.

The female mosquitos must have a blood meal to reproduce which they can do several times in a lifecycle. Males feed on nectar pollinating plants and breed. The staff has been sampling standing water and treating (larvaciding) to kill concentrated immature mosquitos with an ecological friendly agent not harmful to humans, animals or plants which is effective for up to 45days if it doesn’t wash downstream. If the standing water dries up the larvacide will reactivate should there be another accumulation of water in the same area. The staff will also be sampling standing water throughout the season to determine the need for additional treatments. Remember that mosquitos can reproduce in a very, very small amount of water so don’t provide habitat

Throughout the summer the program will be spraying all Tribal communities on a rotating schedule, with a residual type chemical insecticide that is active for 3-4 weeks. The residual agent is persistent, works on contact and kills most insects like chiggers, fleas, ticks etc. but unfortunately, beneficial insects such as; bees, lady bugs, spiders and dragon flies. An attempt will be made to not treat areas near bee hives, gardens or areas where treatments are not desired, so let us know that. Residual spraying will be similar to last year where 2-4 communities per day daily will be treated until the entire reservation communities are treated, then the process starts over or if it rains the chemicals will need to be reapplied. The schedule has to be adjusted for rain and special activities that need to be treated on a required timetable therefore it is difficult to maintain a specific schedule.   

Based on surveillance, another abatement treatment used is known as aerial fogging. If the West Nile Virus carrier, the Culex tarsalis, which winters as an adult and populations increase, aerial fogging will be conducted at dusk when this species is most active. The aerial fogging treatment only targets flying adult mosquitos and is the least effective and most expensive. The programs mosquito surveillance trapping is to identify the West Nile virus carrier and specie(s) populations. Upon reaching threshold numbers of the Culex, usually in July, routine fogging activities will be conducted. A batch of the trapped Culex mosquitos will routinely be sent into the state health lab to determine if the mosquitos are carrying the West Nile virus.  The public will be notified of any positive results. You may have seen our truck active just before dark emitting a fog. The chemical in the fog is less toxic than coffee but could irritate some individuals but kills most insects. Because the virus carrier over winters as an adult you must assume the virus is active.                                                                                                                                       

As is the case with many chemicals used in the abatement of insects, even those considered safe, some individuals may have a reaction. Therefore, all individuals should take precautions to avoid contact with the treatments. Again, please notify the program of sites where abatement treatments are not desired.

No matter how much the program does to eliminate the threat of bites and/or contracting the West Nile virus, individuals have to take it upon themselves to do whatever they can to protect themselves, their families and their communities. A single mosquito can produce a batch of off-spring ever 2-3 days for 30-45 days and mosquitos can be blown in from 15-20 miles away. Use personal insect repellant with EPA approval such as Deet, Parcardin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Repellant with greater than 30% Deet isn’t necessary if Deet is reapplied after swimming, perspiring or as a precaution during extended outdoor periods. Apply repellant properly by applying to hands than rubbing onto exposed skin. Cover exposed body parts, eliminate water from tires, planters or anything that doesn’t drain, empty or treat swimming pools, etc. with 3-5 drops of bleach per gallon of water. Keep lawns clipped and eliminate weeds near human activity. Things like wristbands, citronella candles, perfumes, plants, etc. without the EPA stamp are not worth buying for repellant. Over the counter permethrin sprayed on clothing and shoes before wearing, NEVER on skin, is a good mosquito and chigger repellant. Homeowners can buy over the counter permethrin concentrate and small 3 gallon sprayer to control insects around their yards or they can hire an EPA certified professional to treat areas of personal concern. Most people contract the West Nile virus after June when vigilance starts to drop.

The mosquito that carries the Zika virus is not yet in South Dakota. Several trap sites with traps designed specifically to trap Zika carrying mosquitos are currently being deployed in eastern parts of the state to detect the mosquito as it may progress our way. Disease locations, repellant and a lot of informative mosquito data is on the State Health Department wed site.

Contact the Prairie Management Program staff if there are mosquito questions, concerns or requests for abatement treatments for large social gatherings, ceremonies, celebrations, etc. at (605) 964- 8964.