Vail Valley’s cool, wet spring leads to more mosquitos
Treatment and spraying can only do so much to keep bloodsuckers at bay
EAGLE COUNTY — A swarm of mosquitos can’t actually carry off a small dog. It just seems that way.
The valley’s cool, wet spring has led to a lot of mosquitos in areas prone to infestation, particularly around Edwards and Gypsum. The summer’s first wave of mosquito infestation came about two weeks later than usual.
When it comes to battling the little bloodsuckers, the Edwards Metropolitan District — the government for the unincorporated area — and the town of Gypsum both use Vector Disease Control International, an international company with several Colorado offices.
That company tracks mosquito activity and works to keep the bugs at bay with a combination of treatments both before and after mosquitos emerge from their larval states.
For pre-emergent work, the company treats low-lying areas and known spots where mosquitos lay eggs.
A quiet spring
Gypsum Town Manager Jeremy Rietmann provided the Vector’s logs from May through July 10. The early-season logs are about what you’d expect — little or no activity.
The bugs started popping up in the June 12 report, and Vector applied pre-emergent treatments.
By June 25, the report found “lots of biters,” particularly at the Bureau of Land Management campground just west of town. Vector doesn’t treat that area, since it’s on federal land.
After the bugs start flying, Vector sprays infested areas, usually in the overnight hours to avoid contact with people or pets.
So far, Vector has sprayed the Eagle River Estates, Willowstone, Red Hill, town hall, golf course, Sky Legend, Chatfield Corners, Brightwater and Cotton Ranch areas. That’s most of Gypsum.
In Edwards, Vector has worked in the Brett Ranch and South Fork Meadows area. The Edwards metro district also has agreements with Berry Creek, Arrowhead Lake Creek Village and the Lake Creek Metropolitan District for mosquito treatment in those areas.
Reached by phone, Chris Kruthaupt of Vector said crews are returning to the valley on a regular basis.
Kruthaupt said Vector was busier than expected in 2018 — “local irrigators are very effective,” he said. Despite the hot, dry summer, there were still plenty of puddles where mosquitos could lay eggs. But, he added, this is a particularly active year.
Despite an unusual start to the summer, Kruthaupt said this season’s work hasn’t been markedly different than work in other summers. Crews treat areas where mosquitos lay eggs, then spray as needed.
Any time someone sprays for bugs, there will be complaints. In Gypsum, Rietmann said his best guess for spraying complaints is about 10% of all the calls the town receives. The rest would like more spraying, if possible.
But, he added, mosquito control is important, and not just so people can sit outside in the summer. Mosquitos transmit diseases, to both humans and animals. Locally, the most prevalent mosquito-borne diseases are West Nile virus and Western equine encephalitis.
“We live in a first-world environment where we don’t recognize how dangerous mosquitos are,” Rietmann said. “We get to enjoy not having vector-borne diseases.”
And, he said, Gypsum hired Vector because that firm’s expertise is in the responsible use of chemicals. In Edwards, Meghan Hayes of Marchetti and Weaver, the firm that handles management responsibilities for many of the valley’s special districts, said that area has used Vector for perhaps 20 years.
“Everybody is conscious of using (chemicals) as responsibly as they can,” Rietmann said. “That’s why we’ve contracted with a company that this is their expertise.”
While mosquito control is frequent, it’s not absolute. That’s particularly true in areas near public land.
For instance, the area of Gypsum adjacent to the Bureau of Land Management campground will always be a trouble spot.
There, bugs will either be wind-blown into the adjacent neighborhood or migrate up that way, Kruthaupt said. Mosquitos don’t travel far, but they will migrate a short distance in search of prey.
The rest of the summer is shaping up as a busy one, but Kruthaupt said he doesn’t expect receding rivers to create more problems. Mosquitos won’t lay eggs in places prone to flooding, he said. In fact, mosquitos will sometimes lay eggs in dry areas. Bugs will hatch when the rain comes.
Given the number of bugs out this summer, any treatment will be incomplete, so get out the bug spray and get outside.
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