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Mosquito breeding grounds from Hope to Richmond

Outdoor revellers beware: the number of nuisance mosquitoes is skyrocketing this year and youd best cover up when catching fresh air.

Outdoor revellers beware: the number of nuisance mosquitoes is skyrocketing this year and youd best cover up when catching fresh air.

According to Randy Heilbron, Fraser Healths West Nile virus co-ordinator, high water levels on the Fraser River and throughout the province have created a cozy breeding ground for what are known as nuisance mosquitoes a type that does not carry viruses.

Its pretty pockety, Heilbron said of the spots where bugs have begun hatching. All the way along the river from Hope . . . right down to the mouth of the river in Richmond.

Heilbron said traps have been spread out across the Fraser Valley region to trap and count the number of adult mosquitoes in each area and theres a big difference this year, he said.

Adult mosquitoes lay their eggs in the soil the previous year and by late spring and early summer, eggs then begin to hatch into mosquitoes when the flood waters rise. But many mosquito-wary communities across the province are working to control the number of eggs that become pests by spraying BTI, a type of larvicide that attacks mosquito larvae in the water.

Dirk Lewis, a mosquito control program manager with Morrow BioScience Ltd., has worked with the Fraser Valley Regional District to try to curb the number of bugs in the Fraser Valley region. Lewis said he and the mosquito control team have been spraying BTI along the waters edge from the Abbotsford-Mission area past Chilliwack and up to Hope.

Weve seen a difference in flood water and there are a lot more adult mosquitoes right along the Fraser River corridor, Lewis said.

But B.C. residents worried about West Nile will have to wait to see whether the summer will be a bad one for the virus. Heilbron said the number of vector mosquitoes those that carry viruses wont peak until midsummer.

Its too early to tell whether the West Nile virus will be a major problem this year, he said.

Heilbron said all B.C. residents should take precautions when outdoors. He suggested that people wear long-sleeved clothes with tight-woven fabric, use DEET-based bug spray and avoid the outdoors during high mosquito activity times early morning and late at night.

When travelling to areas known to be endemic to West Nile virus, people should also take extra precautions, he said.

nscallan@theprovince.com

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