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Mosquito Abatement Team Bites Back Against Pesky Insects


The lingering wet spring affected a number of activities in Summit County. One of those has been dealing with mosquitoes. Mosquito Abatement District Manager Bryan Stephens shares how his team is tackling the issue and the concerns for West Nile Virus that can arise when mosquitoes are present. 

Stephens told us their busy time is generally May to September. His district has 21 technicians, and they have been checking locations around the county with standing water, which are generally breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

“We dip the water, and if there’s mosquito larva in that water, we treat that with a bio-rational chemical that we use, it’s a bacteria that’s targeted to kill mosquito larvae. That’s our primary means. What we will like to do is find em when they’re acquatic. We have a much better chance of killing more mosquitoes if we can find them in the water, in the larval stage.”

He added that they’ve moved away from using heavy chemicals to treat the standing water.

While mosquitoes can be annoying, he said they are concerned about them, primarily, as vectors for disease.

“We’re familiar of course with West Nile, and that’s what we need to be primarily concerned with up here. But people have probably heard of zika, or dengue or chikungunya, encephalitis. All of these are diseases that are carried by mosquitoes. And so while annoyance is a factor, for sure, mosquitoes are disease carriers.”

Stephens said they keep an eye out for West Nile—in that case, testing adult mosquitoes—but haven’t seen a case in Summit County since 2007.

He added the insects can also affect animals, primarily horses.

Stephens said his advice for residents is to look around your yard for standing water, in buckets or even dog dishes. To protect yourself, you can use the insect repellent Deet, or wear long-sleeved shirts.

Known for getting all the facts right, as well as his distinctive sign-off, Rick covered Summit County meetings and issues for 35 years on KPCW. He now heads the Friday Film Review team.
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