The North Fork Mosquito Abatement District (NFMAD) board of directors is belatedly responding to a letter from Dinah Lindarin in the Delta County Independent of Aug. 28. We would like to thank Lindarin for her interest in the work of the district and also for the opportunity to correct numerous misapprehensions that Lindarin and others may possibly share specific to treatment in the Pumpkin Hollow area near Paonia or other similar areas of the North Fork.
While perceptions by individual residents may vary from season to season, the district has kept trapping records over the past seasons along with records of what products were applied to specific areas and when. Pumpkin Hollow and the areas opposite along the North Fork of the Gunnison River have always been prime mosquito breeding habitat due to much of the area being low lying and swampy in many places. A considerable amount of district funds and time went into the Pumpkin Hollow area this season. Preliminary work in the area began as early as late March with multiple evaluations and consultations with industry experts, as well as physical "backhoe and shovel" mitigation wherever possible.
According to our records, last year (2012) Pumpkin Hollow had some of the highest trap counts in the entire district despite weekly applications of a short-acting larval product. The counts were indeed higher than in some other areas this year, earlier and throughout the entire season until trapping stopped. The apparent reason was the exceptionally lengthy monsoon rains season as well as just the sheer amount of mosquito habitat. This year all phases of mosquito treatment continue, including both short- and long-acting larval products, and will go on through the middle of September as long as threshold numbers continue to persist. There was a cluster of human West Nile virus illness in the area in 2012, and Pumpkin Hollow was identified in late winter by the new board and field manager as a hotspot on our radar.
Unfortunately, the owner of the property upon which the letter writer resides declined to allow NFMAD to treat the property's extensive mosquito habitat multiple times over the last months, something that makes the district's job even more difficult. Given this restriction, the district did the best it could by trying to encapsulate the property by treating extensively on all sides and monitoring the effects through trapping. Treatment included long-term larvacide briquettes and granules, as well as a range of products. Despite the incorrect perception of the letter writer, NFMAD's focus remains on attempting to kill a large percentage of mosquitoes before they become adults. That is about 90% of our program. However, NFMAD is currently committed to a full-range of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) tools including tightly targeting fogging to knock down adult mosquito concentrations, with special attention given to areas where our RAMP testing reveals the presence of WNV.
When a property owner declines site evaluation and treatment, and takes no action on their own, it not only results in higher numbers of adult mosquitoes but also endangers neighbors if and when West Nile virus is present. It also might make it necessary to spray an area with adulticide that, with proper treatment and landowner cooperation, might not have been necessary. We urge the property owner, and any similar property owners, to reconsider and become more responsible neighbors both to the residents of the Pumpkin Hollow area as well as the greater Town of Paonia.
Long-term planning for mosquito control of Pumpkin Hollow will require the coordination of county, state, and possibly federal governments and the Army Corp of Engineers due to the river corridor and the location of the 100-year-flood plain at an extensive distance from the river bank. Basically, Pumpkin Hollow is the 100-year-old flood plain and presents a uniquely difficult mosquito control challenge. It is far beyond the budget and capacity of the NFMAD crew to physically mitigate this area alone and will require coordination and cooperation of the towns, the residents, and the governments. No matter how hard the crew has worked in treating the area, the physical issues of Pumpkin Hollow limit the success, thus there are adult mosquitoes flying, albeit very few compared to last year, as evidenced by the weekly trap counts.
Finally, residents of the North Fork and particularly those close to the river hotspots such as Pumpkin Hollow are cautioned that the mosquito and WNV season are not over until we receive several nights of hard frost, something that seems to be happening a little later each year. Late season WNV carrier culex mosquitoes may be much more potent than earlier in the season so everyone is urged to cover up and apply an approved repellent when adult mosquitoes are present. Oddly, many mosquitos seem to be out during the day as well as during the usual dawn and dusk times. Remember that WNV carrier culex mosquitoes will attempt to overwinter/hibernate in protected spaces such as your crawl space or heated outbuildings.
Thanks to everyone, including the Towns of Paonia and Hotchkiss, and Delta County, and particularly Ken Nord-strom at the health department, who have supported the new "science, not politics" direction that NFMAD has taken this season. Your district is being lauded as having the biggest single-season turnaround of any mosquito district in the state and much of that success is due to cooperation and collaboration among our field manager, crew, neighbors, landowners and local governments.
If you are unclear on how NFMAD does its job, please contact a board member or go to our website at www.nfmad.org.We don't bite.
President of NFMAD