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Winnipeg starts mosquito program, continues drone pilot project

City crews have begun their annual attack on the bane of many a Winnipegger’s summer existence.

“Our annual efforts to keep those pesky mosquitoes from sucking the fun out of summer is now underway,” insect control branch superintendent David Wade told reporters Tuesday.

The larvicide is applied to large areas using four specialized helicopters and ground crews on trucks target ditches and other areas of standing water where mosquitoes hatch. The city is also planning to use drones to reach smaller areas, finishing a pilot project from 2023 that targeted areas in city golf courses.

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“After the approvals were in place, we didn’t get enough rain to do a thorough pilot project last year,” Wade said. “We’re hoping to get that project started earlier in the season so we can do a proper evaluation of the drone.”

Wade says conditions are similar to last year, which saw a low mosquito population due to low precipitation and the insect control program. Although mosquitoes breed and hatch in standing water, crews don’t have to wait for more rain to start applying the larvicide.

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“It’ll just stay dry on the ground, and then when it does rain and floods, it will activate and it will control those mosquitoes after the next significant rainfall event,” Wade said.

Fogging, which targets adult mosquitoes, takes place according to the city’s Adult Mosquito Control Policy. Precipitation, a mosquito’s life cycle and mosquito population are monitored as part of the Adulticiding Factor Analysis (AFA), which determines at which point the city can fog using DeltaGard 20EW. The pesticide replaced malathion as the city’s fogging agent in 2017 after it was found the city had used an aged supply that may have posed a human health risk.

Winnipeggers can apply for their residence to be omitted during fogging by applying for a buffer zone through the city. The city is also encouraging residents to dump and drain any standing water on their properties.

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