Long summer days mean picnics, pool time, barbeques and…. mosquitos. Besides being a nuisance and causing those itchy red bumps, mosquitos can also carry diseases such as West Nile and Zika Virus. While local cities, in conjunction with the Marin / Sonoma Mosquito & Vector Control District (MSMVCD) does all they can to reduce this risk by minimizing areas where mosquitos can breed and regularly testing for carriers of these diseases, residents can also help by not unwittingly being enablers to these pests breeding in yards and around homes.
“We cover Marin and Sonoma Counties, and have close to 24,000 documented sources of mosquito production that our technicians check on a regular basis,” says Nizza Sequeira, Public Relations Director of MSMVCD. “That includes anything from a creek, to wetlands, marshes or even a resident’s pool, like a neglected swimming pool or pond in someone’s backyard.”
If a resident in the county suspects a mosquito problem, the Marin/ Sonoma Mosquito & Vector Control District will come and check the resident’s home, inspect all known sources of mosquitos in the area and set traps if necessary. This is a free service MSMVCD provides.
“We’re funded through property taxes and benefit assessments, so our services are provided at no additional charge to all residents, whether you’re a homeowner or a renter,” says Sequeira.
According to Sequeira, there are over 20 different species of mosquitos in our area, and they all have different egg laying patterns and preferences, flight patterns and ranges and biting habits. Therefore, it can be beneficial to have the district come and inspect which type of mosquito is being a nuisance to a resident in order to determine where they could be laying eggs. However, some things all homeowners can and should do include dumping any unnecessary standing water, cleaning out birdbaths and animal water bowls at least twice a week, properly screening or securing lids on rain barrels or water storage containers, cleaning out gutters, regularly refreshing water in kiddie pools, keeping swimming pools and hot tubs properly chlorinated and not over-watering lawns. In addition, make sure septic tank lids are properly sealed and vent pipes are screened.
“The mosquito carrying West Nile Virus will lay her eggs in septic tanks, so it’s important to make sure they’re sealed,” says Sequeira. “Even the engineered systems that have the green lids – if one screw is out of the top the mosquito can get through that opening.”
Lastly, MSMVCD will provide, free of charge, mosquito fish that can be stocked in permanent water features, ponds, horse troughs, or any standing water that is at least 18 inches deep.
“Mosquito fish are amazing,” says Sequeria. “They’ll eat up to 500 mosquito larvae a day. They are very prolific. We may give you a few fish but you’ll have hundreds of them by the end of the season. They’ll also generally over-winter. We’ll deliver the fish directly to the pond, or residents can come to our office in Cotati and pick them up.”
While so far this year mosquito-spread diseases have not been discovered in our local area, that does not mean we are not at risk.
“West Nile Virus is endemic to Marin and Sonoma Counties,” says Sequeria. “Every year we generally will pick up the virus. For 2018 we have not found any indication of West Nile Virus yet. But last year we did pick up West Nile Virus in a dead bird in Rohnert Park and we also had a group of positively tested mosquitos which were carrying West Nile Virus on the border of Rohnert Park and Santa Rosa.”
The types of mosquitos that carry Zika Virus and Yellow Fever are not native to California but unfortunately are starting to spread in different counties throughout California. While they have not been found in Marin or Sonoma Counties, they have been found in Fresno, Merced and parts of Southern California. MSMVCD has been setting traps and doing surveillance of those types of mosquitos since 2013 and are continuing to be vigilant, because these types of mosquitos are not only dangerous in transmitting these diseases, but are difficult to eradicate once they have inhabited an area.
To report a mosquito problem, call 707-285-2200 or visit www.msmosquito.com, or visit the MSMVCD office on 595 Helman Ln., in Cotati.