File photo A field tech performs a dip test to see if there mosquito larvae are present in a flooded area.

Get out the bug spray – fast

From Rob Hein’s perspective, there’s no need for speculation about what kind of summer this is going to be for mosquitoes.

“I don’t think there’s any speculation, there’s just waiting for the swarms to come,” said the City of Salmon Arm’s roads and parks manager. “We’ve already seen them out. I’ve already been getting phone calls from people wanting to know when we’re spraying for mosquitoes.”

But the city does not spray for mosquitoes. However, it does have a mosquito treatment program where larvicide is used to target specific mosquitoes known to carry West Nile Virus.

“We don’t have a regular, full blown mosquito program, we aren’t dealing with nuisance mosquitoes…,” said Hein. “Our budget is pretty small, it’s $15,000 a year. If you’re into controlling mosquitoes in general in a community like this, it would be probably closer to… I would be guessing $100,000 or something like that.”

Kamloops-based BWP Consulting Inc. is the contractor that handles mosquito control programs for both City Salmon Arm and the District of Sicamous. Owner Cheryl Phippen concurs with Hein that, with the recent heavy rains, flooding along the Salmon River and high water, it’s going to be a challenging summer in Salmon Arm for mosquitoes.

“The best thing that could have happened is if they could have emerged already, and then we get the heat – that’s awesome because it kills them They can’t handle the heat,” said Phippen. “But if they haven’t emerged yet, the heat just makes them develop super fast and they all come out. So it’s the timing of the flooding and the timing of the heat.”

Phippen said the amount of treatable mosquito habitat in Salmon Arm is nowhere near the size of what she has to contend with in Sicamous. Part of the problem is in the areas she cannot treat, like the marshy areas and bird sanctuary around Marine Park.

“When the water comes up there and goes into the grass, the larvae hatch like crazy – which is so rare. So we can’t treat them because they’re fish food,” said Phippen. “Our product doesn’t hurt fish, but they’re fish food, so we don’t treat them there, so you get a hatch out of there every year. The other problem is you get a hatch out of the Salmon River where it floods, at Demille’s and all that area. We treat that but it also floods into the reserve, and we’re not allowed to treat on the reserve. So it’s kind of a difficult program, because you’ve got the stuff on the border coming in, you’ve got the lake, but we do a significant amount of treatment. And all of the little ponds and things, permanent ponds and ditches, we treat them and then we treat your catch basins come July.”

The Columbia Shuswap Regional District also has a mosquito control program for the reduction of nuisance mosquitoes. These are conducted in Golden, Revelstoke and Scotch Creek/Lee Creek. The CSRD had applied to the province to conduct a mosquito control program in Shuswap Lake and Roderick Haig-Brown provincial parks, but was denied by the Ministry of Environment.