Mosquito

Mosquito species that can carry West Nile virus found in Saskatoon

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After a long winter, summer is in full swing. Unfortunately for Saskatoon residents, the season also comes with Culex tarsalis mosquitos—a type of insect that can carry the West Nile virus. According to reports, the first of these mosquitoes was recently found and caught in one of the city’s carbon dioxide-baited traps.

Though the city actively reduces larval mosquitoes by treating standing water with a biological pesticide, the number of Culex tarsalis mosquitoes are still said to be on the rise.

“Typically nuisance mosquitoes increase in numbers right around this time of year and into early July,” Jeff Boone, the city’s pest management entomologist, told Global News. “They’ve got a bit of a late start this year, so that’s sort of a good sign with regards to our overall West Nile risk.”

Boone says if there is a high level of West Nile, the city will consider using spray fog, a technique used to control adult mosquitos. The city of Saskatoon hasn’t used this method in more than 15 years. Boone told The Star Phoenix that fogging can be controversial because it also kills off other insects, including dragonflies, which help keep mosquito populations under control.  

Pharmacist Kelly Kizlyk says general public can protect themselves from Culex tarsalis mosquitos with a good quality repellant.  

“The gold standard is DEET. It has been around for years, it has been studied,” she told Global News. While some might be hesitant to douse themselves with the chemical, Kizlyk stressed that the benefits of protecting yourself with DEET outweigh the risk of contracting West Nile virus.