Winnipeg launches ‘extensive larviciding program’ during soggy spring

(File image. Source: Center for Disease Control and Prevention / James Gathany)

After a snowy winter and water-logged spring, the City of Winnipeg has started its insect control season, targeting mosquito larvae before they hatch.

The city said Thursday it is focusing on an environmentally friendly mosquito larviciding program to target mosquito larvae in the aquatic stage before they emerge as adult mosquitos.

The city’s superintendent of insect control David Wade said above-normal winter precipitation led to standing water in ditches and low-lying areas in fields and forests.

He asks everyone to do their part to help the city control mosquito populations by tending to standing water on their properties.

“We ask you to dump it, drain it, fill it, cover it or treat it,” he said. “Conditions like we have this spring, there’s lots of standing water. You can see those trouble areas on your property. It’s good to take care of those for the long term.”

However, Wade notes that just because Winnipeg has had a rainy spring, it doesn’t necessarily mean the city is in for a particularly bad mosquito season, as the spring species hatching now are not the nuisance mosquito populations that will emerge in the summer.

“The ones that bother us in July and August will need rainfall events later in the spring and summer to develop,” he said.

Ground crews started carrying out the biorational larviciding program Sunday, and helicopters began flying Wednesday. They will monitor and treat over 28,000 hectares of water area on an ongoing basis based on weather conditions.

Additionally, staff will monitor adult nuisance mosquito traps starting Friday, with the first trap counts to be posted Monday.

The city said adult mosquito treatments will start when city and provincial guidelines are met.

If that treatment is needed, areas with the highest nuisance mosquito populations will be prioritized, and 90-metre buffer zones will be respected.

The city notes a 24-hour public notice will be issued before the start of the nuisance treatment program. Daily public notices will also be issued detailing where spraying will occur that night.

Those not wanting adult mosquito treatment sprayed on their property or adjacent to their property can register as a buffer zone. They must provide identification that ties the registrant to the property, proving primary residence.

The city notes there is a 72-hour turnaround time.

In-person registration is temporarily suspended due to COVID -19. Applications can be sent by filling out an online 311 service request, by emailing 311@winnipeg,ca, by faxing 311 or by writing the Insect Control Branch at 3 Grey Street, Winnipeg MB, 32L 1V2.