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United States Air Force gets tough on mosquitoes

Posted 7/29/09 (Wed)

By Tina Foreman
Farmer Staff Writer

According to trap counts, mosquito control efforts by the United States Air Force killed about half of Watford City’s mosquito population. But if you head outside for an evening stroll, the result feels much different.
In an effort to keep ahead, so the little pests don’t get completely out of control, larviciding efforts began in April around Watford City, and last week a huge effort was made to eliminate adult mosquitoes in town.
Monday, July 20, the United States Air Force flew over the Watford City area on a mosquito control mission.
“The Air Force applied an adulticide to kill adult mosquitoes, black flies and gnats,” says Lowell Cutshaw, Watford City city engineer/administrator. “This application in conjunction with larvicide applications which began in April should help reduce the amount of biting and breeding adult mosquitoes.”
Spray was applied to Watford City and directly south of town, as well as Williston and Trenton. The fuel and plane were provided at no cost, with the McKenzie County Vector Control budget covering the cost of the chemical and the crew’s per diem.
“We knew Williston was planning to have the Air Force do another application,” says Cutshaw. “So I contacted Fran Bosch of the Williston Vector Control and we were added to the application area. It would have been nice to include a larger area of McKenzie County, but because of timing, we weren’t able to do that this year. But, we are already working on expanding the project for next year.”
According to Cutshaw, the aerial application was the same as fogging for mosquitoes, but on a larger scale.
“The Air Force application won’t change the way we fight mosquitoes for the remainder of the summer,” states Cutshaw. “We will still be out fogging and placing larvicide. This was an effort to reduce our numbers right now, to help slow breeding.”
According to Cutshaw, some areas of town like around the Courthouse and Cherry Creek were minimally affected by the Air Force application, so fogging was also done in those areas.
“I’ve heard from some people that the mosquitoes are gone and from others that the Air Force didn’t have any affect,” adds Cutshaw. “One person told me that we may have killed half of the mosquito population, but we just made the other half really angry.”
Even though the city is busy fighting mosquitoes, it doesn’t mean that residents should stop doing their part.
“Residents need to keep up with their efforts to remove standing water from their property or they will continue to see more and more mosquitoes,” states Cutshaw. “Start by looking around your yard for anything containing water. Anything that can hold water should be cleaned out and refilled daily or weekly depending on size. And if possible, containers should be turned upside down to keep water out.”
Along with removing any standing water, keeping your vegetation under control is another great way to help control adult mosquitoes. This can be accomplished by mowing your lawn regularly and keeping shrubs and bushes trimmed.
Because the application only kills the bugs it comes in contact with, added to the fact that mosquitoes are hatching every day, it’s hard to determine if the Air Force application was a success. But, according to Watford City trap numbers it was. So the next time you’re being bugged by mosquitoes, just think, if the Air Force hadn’t flown over, there would be twice as many.