For more information on mosquito management efforts and ways to protect yourself from mosquitos, visit the following websites

Colorado Mosquito Control:

OtterTail Environmental:

Boulder County:

City of Boulder:

City of Longmont:

Insect repellant information from the Environmental Protection Agency:


It's skeeter time again.

This week, area communities from Longmont to Broomfield will begin checking mosquito traps. The primary goal, as always, is to see how many bloodsuckers might be carrying West Nile Virus.

Following a particularly troublesome 2013 season in Longmont, during which the city saw a pair of citywide mosquito sprayings — an emergency measure urged by Boulder County when West Nile risk climbs too high — that city is throwing in a few new wrinkles to its mosquito strategy in 2014.

The city's contractor, Colorado Mosquito Control, Inc., will be checking 16 sites beginning Monday instead of the 11 it monitored last year, in an effort to cover more ground to the south and east.

Also, in hopes to avoid a repeat of citywide spraying, the plans are to first try a larger — and less expensive — "enhanced area" sprayings.

A citywide spray costs $40,000, Dan Wolford, the city's land program administrator, said last week, while an "enhanced area" spray, first tried last year, cost about $9,600. Last season the enhanced areas sprays proved effective, lowering the vector index — the tool used to measure West Nile risk, viewed as critical when the index climbs over 0.75 — in August from 3.22 to 0.44, though the city still saw 17 new West Nile cases reported after the enhanced spraying. By contrast, there were four new cases after the two citywide sprays took place in July.

"It gives us another tool in the toolbox," Wolford said of the tactic.

Following repeated complaints from residents about not providing sufficient warnings about spraying last year, the Longmont City Council voted last week to provide 48 hours notice "when possible," though Wolford said that can be challenging. If rain cancels a Wednesday spray, he noted, that could push the replacement one into the weekend, when it might have to deal with city events.

"We'll work our hardest to make (the 48 hours) happen and give everyone as much notice as possible," he said, adding that the city will use a variety of channels to communicate spraying schedules.

Residents can sign up for eAlert at, as well as follow the city's Facebook page and Twitter feed. The Longmont Times-Call runs the spray schedule on Tuesdays during mosquito season.

The city's West Nile page at also has links to the Colorado Mosquito Control webpage, a link to the spray schedule and weekly trap reports, and access to a shutoff form asking the contractor not to spray when passing a particular address. In a citywide spray, shutoffs are not honored.

Larval surveillance: 'Basically the canary in the coal mine'

Michael Weissmann is the chief entomologist for Colorado Mosquito Control, which in addition to Longmont, is also the mosquito control contractor for Lafayette, Louisville, Erie and Broomfield.

Larval surveillance and control efforts have been underway for weeks already, Weissmann said, but crews tonight will set up mosquito traps, including three in Louisville, three in Lafayette, five in Erie and six in Broomfield, and will collect them on Monday morning. He said the first batches of Culex mosquitos—the species of the insects that carries West Nile Virus- will be sent to the state health department for testing in the second week of June.

"It's basically the canary in the coal mine," he said of the testing. "We don't want people getting sick first, we want to find the sick mosquitos first."

He said Longmont is part of a distinct "sentinel zone," as are Erie, Lafayette and Louisville under the Coal Creek Basin umbrella, both of which are closely monitored by the state to measure relative West Nile Virus levels in each region from year to year. He said the Coal Creek area saw some targeted mosquito spraying last year, but its vector index numbers were much lower than Longmont's.

"We spray based on surveillance and we spray based on science," Weissmann said, adding his company's technicians use low-dose, low-volume tactics. "That's how you do integrated pest management. You want to knock down the adult numbers so they don't lay eggs for the next generation."

'We expect a busy beginning of the season'

Based on recent conditions, Lane Drager, Boulder County's consumer protection program coordinator, said this season could be a bad one for mosquitos.

"Weather conditions are certainly panning out to be very favorable for mosquitos," he said. "With the storms last week followed by very hot days, it's good conditions for them."

He said trapping has yet to begin in Boulder County—eventually 23 traps will be placed at set locations with two or three "floater" traps available to address localized problems—larval surveillance around the county has yet to turn up any Culex larvae.

The county, along with the city of Boulder and Superior contract with OtterTail Environmental, Inc. for mosquito control.

OtterTail biologist Joe Cox said that his company will set up 19 traps in Boulder and two in Superior in addition to the county's traps. He said his company began larval surveillance in April, and based on weather conditions, he said residents should expect to see plenty of the, non-West Nile carrying, "nuisance" mosquitos.

"We expect a busy beginning of the season," he said.

Rella Abernathy is the integrated pest management coordinator for the city of Boulder. She said the city tries to focus on larval control to manage mosquito problems, before turning its focus to Culex mosquitos and efforts to reduce the risk of disease transmission to people.

She said, at a certain point, limiting cases of West Nile Virus comes down to personal responsibility for area residents.

"The cities and counties are doing everything they can, but Culex mosquitos don't fly very far," she said. "It's really important for people to control them on their own properties by draining standing water and making sure gutters are clear."

She said it is also very important for people to protect themselves from mosquito bites by using insect repellant.

"It's really important that people take steps to avoid mosquito bites," she said.

Of 318 West Nile cases in Colorado last year, 183 came from Boulder, Weld and Larimer Counties.

Contact Camera Staff Writer Joe Rubino at 303-473-1328,, or / rubinojc