The RDOS operates a mosquito control service (see the RDOS site for information), This thread is primarily about mosquitoes attributable to Max Lake, a conservation area to the north west of the West Bench (bordering Husula Highlands and Westwood Properties).
A thread on attempts to reduced mosquitoes at Max Lake using non-pesticide measures follows in this thread.
Update and summary as of 2 Jul 09: The RDOS is prevented from doing anything in and around Max Lake by a conservation covenant jointly held by the RDOS and The Land Conservancy (TLC). We asked TLC on Monday, 29 June, 2009, to relax the terms of the covenant so that Max Lake can be treated under the terms of the RDOS Pest Management Plan. The RDOS uses a very specific, naturally-occurring larvicide that is non-toxic to fish, amphibians, etc. The TLC has refused this request. Thus, there is nothing the RDOS can do about mosquitoes originating in the Max Lake area. The only remaining option for residents affected by the mosquitoes is to take their complaints directly to TLC (contact info).
See also a new thread on West Nile.
I am getting a large number complaints from people in and near Husula Highlands about mosquitoes. The following is fairly typical:
We are currently undergoing, what I can only describe as a siege of mosquitoes. We are no longer able to enjoy our garden, in fact, I do not allow our children outside to play—despite being covered in insect repellent (which I don't agree with having to do), they are still being bitten. We're being bitten through our clothes! The presence of mosquitoes is significantly reducing the quality of our life—we no longer have friends over (it's quite frankly embarrassing to have them swarmed on as they walk from their vehicles to our home. We no longer garden—to be very honest, it's a very sorry state of affairs to have a beautiful garden and not being able to enjoy it—I feel as if I'm in a bunker, trapped inside
I certainly sympathize with Husula residents and have asked RDOS staff to clarify the issue (unfortunately, a key staff member has been on vacation, slowing down the process a bit). As I understand it, the root of the problem is a "conservation covenant" placed on Max Lake in 2001 by its former owner (the Abundant Life Church) with the help of the RDOS and The Land Conservancy (please see TLC's overview of the Max Lake project). The idea of the covenant is to restrict certain activities—such as pesticide use—in perpetuity in order to maintain the wetland. The mosquitoes are ostensibly food for frogs, birds, etc. and thus eradicating the mosquitoes impacts the overall viability of the ecosystem. In short, the covenant makes it illegal for the RDOS crews to eradicate mosquitoes in the protected area.
All I can say at this point is that I have asked high-level RDOS staff to look into our legal options with respect to the conservation covenant. According to Steve Anderson, who takes care of mosquito control for the RDOS (see Steve's email messages below), the RDOS is permitted to spray for the type of mosquito known to carry West Nile (see the RDOS mosquito control page). That is, public health concerns trump the conservation covenant. I am not sure whether quality-of-life issues do the same. Please stand by...
Email from Steve Anderson, June 5, 2009:
Max Lake was part of the Mosquito Control Program from when I started in 1989 thru the time it became a protected area. It is one of those sites that seems to hatch a large volume of Aedes, (floodwater), mosquitoes in the spring, and we confirmed that again this year. However, as the year progresses, and the water recedes, those floodwater mosquitoes are no longer as present in the water, and there is a more balanced mix of other kinds of mosquitoes and aquatic and flying predators that can help control the mosquitoes. Unfortunately, those floodwater mosquitoes are pretty aggressive biters and can be extremely bothersome and I believe those are the mosquitoes that are causing the problems for the nearby residents. They do not persist long however, and only produce one batch of eggs so after two to three weeks they become much less of a factor. However, we have seen Culex and other mosquitoes in the Max Lake protected area as the year progresses, and as these are possible vectors for West Nile and some other diseases—so it would be good to monitor their presence, and treat them under Interior Health's West Nile Pest Management Plan... but if and when we do that would have to be discussed with the people managing the property. In the meantime, I have clarified the borders of the protected area, and will have the mosquito control staff monitor and treat the areas nearby on a weekly basis for all of this summer, which is what we did last year. I believe their presence in the nearby areas will give us a good idea of how Max Lake itself is doing in terms of water levels, numbers of mosquito adults, the presence of natural mosquito predators and the levels of Culex mosquitoes.
Follow-on message from Steve, 10 June, 2009:
We were up in Husula Highlands yesterday after a quick check of the main part of Max Lake. The adult mosquitoes were very abundant of course, but from what we could see they were most likely the Aedes (floodwater) mosquitoes that we had observed in Max Lake this year. We were of course very uncomfortable that we could not have treated these mosquitoes—especially considering the specificity and safety of the larvicide we use. As far as mosquito control efforts, we are very limited to not spraying without the permission of the people managing the properties we would want to spray under our nuisance mosquito program's Pest Management Plan. However, I understand that in the past, we have been given permission to treat the Max Lake area for mosquitoes that can carry West Nile Virus, but have not been given permission to treat the floodwater mosquitoes which are the ones plaguing the residents. I would like very much to get permission to treat these floodwater mosquitoes in Max Lake in the future as we did before, especially as they can theoretically occur after every significant rainfall, so any discussions that could be carried out with the managers of the property.