Mosquito abatement program successful in Moffat County


“I’ve had so many people tell me that we don’t have any mosquitoes because it’s been such a hot and dry year. I just want them to be aware of why we don’t have any.”

— Gary Brannan, Moffat County pest management manager

Gary Brannan, Moffat County weed and pest management manager, said Tuesday it’s time to set the record straight about a noticeable decline in mosquito numbers in Craig.

Although a common misconception exists among residents that there are fewer flying pests in Moffat County because of the weather, Brannan said mosquito numbers are down this year in large part due to the work of his pest management team.

“I’ve had so many people tell me that we don’t have any mosquitoes because it’s been such a hot and dry year,” Brannan said. “I just want them to be aware of why we don’t have any.”

On Tuesday Brannan, and pest control technician Pam Boyd, were comparing the results of two test traps the department set this week.

Moffat County pest management employees set mosquito traps twice a week to look for trends in numbers and to identify the various types of mosquitoes in the area.

Although there are dozens of subspecies, two main types of mosquitoes are prevalent in Moffat County.

The Ades, or flood water mosquitoes, are considered to be little more than pests.

Culex, or standing water mosquitoes, are the ones that can carry a variety of diseases including West Nile Virus, Brannan said.

“It’s nuisance and disease control,” Brannan said. “If we weren’t doing this no one would be able to use things like Loudy-Simpson Park, the golf course or other recreational parks because if you get into a bad area it’s difficult to stand there long enough just to set the trap up.”

The department utilizes Centers for Disease Control and Prevention light traps, Boyd said.

The traps are baited with dry ice.

When the dry ice melts it gives off carbon dioxide confusing mosquitoes into thinking there is a large mammal in the area.

The mosquitoes are then attracted to the light and sucked into a mesh trap by a battery powered fan.

Earlier this week Boyd set a trap in an area not typically abated by the weed and pest management department, and caught more than 6,000 mosquitoes.

The following day Boyd set a trap in an area county employees had treated with Bacillus thuringiensis israelenis and caught 23 mosquitoes.

“We strive for 95 percent control,” Brannan said. “Given what we have here I would say we’re having more than a 99 percent control rate.”

BTI is a naturally occurring organism that only affects the digestive systems of mosquito larva and black fly midges.

But BTI has no affect on mosquitoes already “in flight,” Brannan said.

To control adult populations the weed and pest department uses a contact insecticide designed specifically for mosquitoes called adulticide.

Adulticide fog can be spread using handheld, truck-mounted or aerial equipment.

On Tuesday the pest management department began its flyover operations in problem areas along the Yampa River.

Aerial applications are scheduled to continue through Friday.

“We usually do flyovers and fog in other parts of the county, but there doesn’t seem to be as much of a need for that this year,” Boyd said. “If we get those late season monsoons you’ll probably see us working a little more in other parts of the county.”

To help contain mosquitoes, particularly disease spreading Culex mosquitoes, Brannan said there are a number of things people can do around the home including minimizing the amount of standing water in gutters, spare tires and abandoned pools.

Additional tips may be found in the resident’s guide to mosquito control, which is available at the weed and pest management office, 539 Barclay St.