JACKSON HOLE, WYO – The big snows, the huge melt—it all adds up to one thing after the flooding: skeeters!
Mosquitoes are expected to be particularly bothersome this season. Already, an overwhelming presence of the bloodsuckers has been noticed at backyard barbeques and overnight camping trips.
Teton County Weed and Pest (TCWP) has launched its usual assault on the pests…and then some. Though they were braced for a battle months ago, there are a few challenges the department is facing.
“We are most definitely bracing for a challenging start to summer this year,” said assistant supervisor Marta Iwaseczko. “The extensive flooding we are seeing throughout the region has impacted some areas that have not held water in decades. These direct riparian and groundwater-connected areas often harbor many years’ worth of eggs laid by floodwater mosquitoes. The eggs of these mosquitoes are capable of withstanding frost, fire, and even prolonged desiccation (up to 40 years’ viability in some studies of Aedes vexans eggs) and can build up significant numbers over time.”
Yikes! What are we up against?
To make matters even more difficult for Weed and Pest this season is a new state trespass law requiring Weed and Pest to get expressed verbal or written consent before they can spray on private property. It affects many properties where the agency had a long-standing understanding with a property owner that TCWP employees could come on-premises to spray for noxious weeds or mosquitoes.
Now, property owners need to be proactive about allowing TCWP to do its thing.
“Many landowners have responded to our letters, doorhangers, ads, and phone calls and we are very grateful for their cooperation and support. However, several key landowners with larval habitat have not, and many more landowners who have yet to receive or notice our work have not indicated their preference for our services,” Iwaseczko said. “We certainly appreciate and will continue to honor any landowner’s right to decline services, but it would be a shame to omit areas for warranted control simply because landowners are unaware that they needed to provide us permission first.”
What incomplete coverage causes is a patchwork approach to mosquito mitigation, which is a far less effective way to knock back the bug.
In areas where Weed and Pest employees can’t get access, they use a truck-mounted ultra-low volume (ULV) sprayer. Iwaseczko admits it is a less-than-ideal method of mosquito control but it does offer some relief if applied appropriately.
Additional challenges this early summer season involve a synchronicity of this year’s extensive high-elevation runoff and hayfield/pasture flood irrigation. “We often have the luxury of staggering the focus of our limited resources on these two main sources of mosquito production in the valley; not so this year,” Iwaseczko said.
Property owners wishing to sign up for spraying can fill out an online form.