Mosquito abatement crews don't typically warn you before spraying

Abatement crews can't always warn in advance.

TREASURE VALLEY - Mosquitoes are a problem that's going to get a lot worse as rivers in our area start receding.

They are out there, and you might be seeing trucks in your neighborhood spraying the streets at night or abatement crews out during the day treating standing water to kill them off. But how do you know when crews are going to be out with pesticides? And what can you do if you don't want them near your property?

You will see abatement crews out in full force doing what are called "fogging" treatments since this season is going to be a mad one for mosquitoes. But KTVB found out, mosquito control officials don't typically tell you when they're spraying near your home or in the area.

Flooding and standing water across the Treasure Valley created the perfect habitat for mosquitoes.

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"As the river recedes it's going to leave all these pools," Canyon County Mosquito Abatement District Director Ed Burnett said. "It's going to be a challenge this year."

Currently, mosquito abatement crews in Ada and Canyon counties are out during the day trying to attack larvae before they hatch - which is key in combating mosquitoes. Larvaciding is the abatement of mosquitoes as larvae in bodies of water or standing water, and is the first line of defense for both counties.

Come dusk when flying adult mosquitoes are most active, abatement crews head out to spray treatment that attacks adult mosquitoes which is called adulticiding, or Ultra-Low-Volume Fogging. This spray rapidly reduces the flying-biting mosquito population. ULV spraying is the process of distributing very small amounts of liquid insecticide into the air as a mist and dispersing it over an area.

County abatement officials say adulticides are applied based on complaint calls, requests from daytime larvacide application crews and from surveillance information.

"Sometimes if we get enough service requests from a certain area then what that will do is that means something is going on," Burnett added. "Depending on the service requests - the numbers that come in - and what our traps are telling us that are in that area."

"We actually use surveillance techniques to be able to find out where mosquitoes are, then we go out with larvaciders and adulticiders and we treat those areas that we find are problems, any kind of standing water. But as it goes to HOA's and places as we try to reach out to them as much as we can," Ada County Mosquito Abatement Program and Education Specialist Sam Holt said. "We try to be informative with them and set up meetings and just be able to have an open dialogue between the two and just give them notification."

Homeowners' associations (HOAs) can request treatment for common areas or any other property in a subdivision where they are listed as the owner.

As far as individual homes go, you can request service on both Ada County and Canyon County mosquito abatement websites.

"If somebody puts in a request then we go and fog in front of their house," Holt said. "Some people try to call in and say, 'hey just fog the whole street' which we won't. We'll have to ask individual property owners to fog the street. So if we get the whole street calling in then we'll fog the whole street all the way through," Holt added.

Abatement officials say they can't notifty you every time they're in your area.

"We don't give notification that would be hundreds of thousands of notifications in a single season," Holt said. "With how bad and quick mosquitoes are able to just hatch and breed in three days it leaves us not a whole lot of time to be able to even help control mosquitoes if we're notifying every single person."

So if you live in the Ada County Abatement District, you can fill out this "Notify Only Request Form". Ada County really presses that for bee keepers so crews don't fog anywhere close to bees.

"Then it gets placed on our maps so everybody is able to see it," Holt said. "If you're living in a subdivision then your house won't be fogged, so we'll turn off the fogger. But your neighbors have just as much of a right to have mosquitoes sprayed as you do not to be sprayed. So we'll turn them off in front of your property and then turn back on once we pass your property."

In Canyon County, if you want to opt-out of fogging treatment or want pre-notification of treatments in your area or neighborhood, they ask you to call their office at (208) 461-8633 or fill out this service request and provide details.

"Some people just want to know, others don't want to be sprayed," Burnett said.

Canyon County abatement district says if you have honey bees or other types of bees then please call their office for bee protection advice.

Mosquito abatement is crucial for combating burtal diseases like West Nile Virus, and experts say it is only a matter of time before carriers of the virus start popping up in our area.

But as with any insecticide or pesticide, these mosquito control sprays do come with some safety risk.

"What we're using is very very low doses as far nighttime applications," Burnett added. "They're very very benign as far as any toxicity for people."

Crews will stop their fogging treatment when they visually see someone nearby.

"It's chronic exposure to any pesticide that ends up bringing a heightened risk," Holt added. "We don't want anybody to end up having some kind of allergic reaction or bad reaction."

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, mosquito control products have passed rigorous EPA-required safety tests.

Ada and Canyon County abatement officials say they will notify the whole community when they plan to do aerial spray applications. They have programs in place to do those but there are no plans as of right now for when or if they might carry those out.

There is a map on Ada County's website where you can check different areas around the county for hotspots, mosquito traps and where mosquitoes have tested positive for West Nile.

© 2017 KTVB-TV


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