Wet spring, rising rivers affects work at Benton Co. Mosquito Control

Benton

WEST RICHLAND, Wash. — The wetter and cooler than normal spring in the region has had many effects for area residents including the work that goes on at Benton County Mosquito Control District.

As most people work in a climate-controlled office, Benton County Mosquito Control District employees are outside, making sure mosquitos don’t ruin outdoor activities this summer.

“Intense, on the ground staff that is monitoring and looking at the mosquito population every single day,” Gretchen Grabar, the Outreach and Education Specialist with the District said.

In recent weeks, staff has had to deal with the effects of fluctuating river levels.

“This spring, we really have had an unprecedented raising and lowering of the Yakima, Columbia, Snake Rivers,” she said.

Grabar said the Yakima River is twice as high as it was last year, sitting at 10.5 feet more than normal.

“As the river rises, it’s filling in the side channels and creating puddles, and what we’re concerned about here at mosquito control is when that water starts to go back down that is prime time for mosquito development. We’re doing everything we possibly can, we’re using our ground treatments and we’re using our aerial treatments,” Grabar explained.

This means stagnant water left behind, is prime mosquito breeding grounds.

“We are anticipating a hatch of mosquitos that are annoying and aggressive,” she said.

Luckily, there’s a bit of a silver lining in this situation.

“They don’t carry West Nile but they will be annoying and aggressive,” Gretchen said.

Grabar said they’re tracking mosquito larvae to prevent a population explosion, and with ever-changing weather, they’ll have to use their plane to spray from overhead, and drone.

“Mosquitos can breed and populate even in a small amount of water and they actually kind of like this warm stagnant water; it’s their preferred habitat,” she said.

The Benton County Mosquito Control District is asking homeowners to look around their property for stagnant water, and use devices like mosquito dunks to prevent more bugs.

Gretchen also encourages people to have EPA-approved repellent on hand for outdoor activities this summer.

You can follow the District on Facebook and on their website.

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