September may have brought cooler weather, but mosquitoes can still be a problem, and the North Fork Mosquito Abatement District reminds residents to remain vigilant.
"It's still mosquito season," said NFMAD operations manager Chris Tschinkel. "We are still dealing with the adult population that, given the opportunity, will hide out" and breed.
The organization is winding down summer operations. Lab technicians and field crews will continue testing for West Nile Virus and treating targeted areas as necessary through September.
Of the five known species of mosquito in the area, two, Culex pipiens and Culex tarsalis, are known to carry WNV, which can cause symptoms from mild headaches and fever to life-threatening inflammation of the brain.
Incidences of WNV in Colorado and in Delta County are down in recent years. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2012, Delta County had 22 reported cases of WNV, and in 2013 the number dropped to 14 reported cases. Last year Delta County had three reported cases.
To date, the Western Slope has seen only two cases in 2015, including one in Mesa County in July.
The last time technicians found the virus in mosquito samples collected in the North Fork area was in 2013, said Tschinkel, "But that doesn't mean it isn't out there."
Citizens are reminded to watch for incidences of standing water and to be pro-
active in policing their own property. Emptying standing water from gutters, flowerpots, buckets, pool covers, pet water dishes, birdbaths and other places where water can collect will help reduce mosquito populations.
Personal prevention measures include using insect repellents, wearing long sleeves, long pants and socks when outdoors, and taking extra precautions during peak mosquito biting hours from dusk to dawn.
While mosquito numbers will drop dramatically with the first freeze, typically on or about Sept. 24 in the North Fork area, reducing the number of hatchings before then will diminish the number of adults that will over-winter and emerge once the weather warms up. Reduction in adult populations gives NFMAD a jump on mosquito season in the spring, said Tschinkel.
Anyone who sees incidences of standing water that can't easily be mitigated is asked to report it to the NFMAD. Targeted spraying will occur when trap evidence and threshold factors necessitate it. NFMAD posts all planned targeted spraying on its Facebook page.
The NFMAD lists all planned spraying, as well as product information, mosquito species information, news and more on its website, nfmad.org. To report incidences of mosquito problems or standing water issues, call 527-6681.