EDMONTON – While many in the Capital Region rejoiced over the much-needed rain that fell over the weekend, there is a downside to all the moisture and it comes with a bite.
The rain led to a substantial amount of standing water in and around Edmonton, which is the perfect place for mosquitoes to develop.
“We are seeing hatching in a lot of those habitats. There are mosquitoes developing in a lot of that standing water,” Mike Jenkins, a biological sciences technician with the City of Edmonton, said.
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But while there is the potential for mosquitoes to hatch, Jenkins said the type of rain the Edmonton area experienced was ideal as far as trying to control the skeeter population is concerned.
“It was a fairly long, slow and cool soak-in rather than a big torrential downpour all in one afternoon,” Jenkins explained, adding much of the moisture was absorbed by the extremely dry ground and plants. “In a lot of ways it was the perfect type of storm to come through at this time.
“Many of those habitats may actually be gone before the larvae are even able to develop into mosquitoes. But we’re going to be treating those because there is rain in the forecast again.”
Crews are using three approaches in hopes reducing the number of aquatic larvae that are developing in the ponds before they hatch.
Helicopters are the primary course of action, used to treat standing bodies of water. Ground crews are out using backpack sprayers to treat parks, industrial areas and spaces along train tracks. The city had also deployed ditch trucks, which mainly focus on water that collects in ditches on the side of the road.
“It’s a much more effective process than trying to control them after they’re already out and trying to treat them as adults,” Jenkins said.
Up until now, Edmonton has had a very low mosquito population this year because it’s been so dry.
“Possibly among the lowest we’ve ever had. I haven’t actually compared exactly week-to-week to make sure but it’s definitely down there,” Jenkins said.
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And of course, with more rain that could quickly change. Jenkins said it typically takes about one week after a significant rainfall for the mosquitoes to come out in full force.
Rain totals varied throughout the city over the May long weekend, but on average, Edmonton saw about 68.9 millimetres of rain. The average rainfall for Edmonton in May is 46.1mm.
So far this year, Edmonton has received about 119.3mm of rain.