What’s an “acceptable level” of mosquitoes? Does the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have a handle of the problem on Bandon Marsh? And how will government officials deal with the issue next year?
Those are just a few of the questions the Coos County Vector Assessment and Control Committee faces at its bi-weekly meetings.
Attendance at the meetings has decreased since swarms of mosquitos terrorized Bandon last year, but those who do come report fewer mosquitoes on their properties this year.
In traps surrounding the marsh, mosquitoes counts have been in the range of 270 this week after a fly-off of mature Aedes dorsalis salt water marsh mosquitoes around July 1. Last year, that number was 2,500.
Does that mean a repeat of last year’s “summer of the mosquitoes” has been precluded?
By most accounts the problem is much better this year, but not completely abated, according to residents and committee members.
But some still feel USFWS isn’t doing enough.
At the July 1 regular board meeting in Coquille, Coos County Commissioner John Sweet said USFWS has received bids to modify the marsh, and work is set to start in mid-July. At a previous meeting, Sweet said the larvicide application by Vector Disease Control International seemed to be working.
Bandon resident Rob Taylor disagrees. His nonprofit, Coos County Today, is working to establish non-invasive mosquito management practices, including lavender application.
“I’m still not sure why you speak so glowingly of how U.S. Fish and Wildlife is doing such a great job down there when at the last meeting I attended they said they only have five mosquito traps out,” Taylor told Sweet at the meeting. “You can’t report mosquitoes if you don’t find mosquitoes.”
Resident Don Chance also is skeptical of any reported mosquito abatement. He said spraying the larvicide Bti over 140 acres, which was done June 14 and 15, directly following the highest tide of the month, was not as effective as spraying the entire 900-some acres of the Ni-les’tun Unit of the Bandon Marsh.
“They’re only paying attention to this small portion of the marsh, everything else be damned,” Chance said.
Dan Markowski of Vector Disease Control International, is the Coos County Public Health contractor that conducts the larvicide applications. The next application is expected to follow the highest tide of the month July 14.
Meanwhile, USFWS and Ducks Unlimited will begin work July 15 to add tidal channels to drain mosquito breeding habitat at the marsh.
At a Vector Assessment and Control Committee meeting Monday at The Barn in Bandon, committee chairman Roger Straus said construction of the bat houses will soon be underway. The houses will be provided free to those who are experiencing high numbers of the salt water marsh mosquito, Aedes dorsalis, that plagued the marsh and surrounding areas last summer.
According to Straus, the fly-off in the last couple of days was the result of some breeding pools being missed. A fly-off of mature mosquitoes also occurred in mid-May.
“There are some mosquitoes out there, but we haven’t experienced masses or swarms, and it will be two to four weeks before they are gone,” Straus said. “But it’s not an unexpected result because we knew they couldn’t get all of them.”