It has been quite the year of mosquito activity in the Coachella Valley. Vector control is now changing how they battle the bugs.
The Coachella Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District says it has been a busy year, but for unusual reasons. That is because they are finding less infected mosquitoes in what used to be highly infested areas, but are now finding more infected mosquitoes scattered around the valley. This development, according to the district, is very resource- intensive. "It’s dividing our resources somewhat and making it a bit more difficult to operate, eventhough we don’t have the viruses, it’s not focused into more localized areas," Interim Operations Manager at the Coachella Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District Rodney Chamberlain said.
Although there are less mosquitoes carrying deadly viruses compared to last year, the district is still juggling three different issues. St. Louis encephalitis and West Nile viruses found in mosquitoes in the valley and for the first time, an invasive mosquito species called aedes aegytpti, which is capable of transmitting deadly viruses such Dengue, Chikungunya and Zika.
All of which are scattered throughout the valley. "They are all small fires, and we are trying to maintain all of our resources we have available to affectively knock them out simultaneouls," Chamberlain said.
In an effort to reduce the number of mosquitoes and interrupt transmission of the viruses, the district will conduct ultra-low volume applications (spraying) in areas where the virus-positive mosquitoes were trapped. "We are doing ground door to door, we are doing enhanced surveillance, which means when we do find positives, we go out and locate those breeding sites, we are doing ground ULV and then we bring in aircraft to do so more from the air which we can cover more acreage," he added.
Although the numbers are not as alarming as last year, experts say residents should not take things lightly. "People should remember some standard precautions, insect repellent, long sleeve shirts and pants is certainly warranted," Chamberlain said.
District officials say truck-mounted sprayings are scheduled to begin tomorrow. Next week, the sprayings will be carried out by helicopter. Meantime, the district expects their crews to remain this busy the entire year.