Despite wet spring, cooler temperatures a buzzkill so far for Winnipeg’s swarms of skeeters

After one of the wettest springs in memory left Winnipeg swamped with puddles, you may have assumed the city would be buzzing with mosquitoes around now.

But the person leading the city’s mosquito-fighting effort says crews are keeping the blood-sucking pests at bay, thanks to the same chilly, wet weather that’s tormented many people for months.

“As long as you don’t get any more significant rain in the near future, we can stay on top of it and get all the [mosquito breeding] sites treated,” said David Wade, Winnipeg’s superintendent of insect control.

He credits the cooler spring temperatures with extending the time it takes for mosquitoes to hatch in the water.

That gives the 140 employees involved in the city’s larviciding program more time to spray countless pools of standing water, which are breeding grounds for mosquitoes. 

“The cooler temperatures have helped keep development rates low and allowed us to get to each site in a timely manner,” Wade said.

In Winnipeg, the larvicide program monitors 28,000 hectares of known mosquito larvae sites within the city and just outside it, the city said. One hectare is approximately the size of a CFL football field.

The workers apply biological larvicides using truck-mounted equipment, backpacks, helicopters and ATVs.

Dry summers may have helped

Their efforts don’t mean Winnipeg will be devoid of mosquitoes. The wet weather is conducive to a mosquito’s growth — and things could get worse, depending on the forecast.

“With the ground being so saturated, it will take less water to create standing water if we get a future rainfall event,” said Wade.

Hotter conditions also speed up the life cycle of mosquitoes, Wade said.

Nicole Napoleone said she’s already had mosquito encounters this year. While she didn’t need to worry about them on the golf course in St. Boniface on Tuesday, she does at her home outside Winnipeg.

“There was lots of standing water everywhere. They hatched overnight and they were as big as helicopters, I tell you,” she said, chuckling.

Winnipeg hasn’t had to worry too much about mosquitoes the last few summers due to hot, dry conditions. (mycteria/Shutterstock)

For now, a retired biology professor said he’s impressed Winnipeg isn’t being swarmed by the hungry insects.

“In June, to have so few mosquitoes for the amount of water we had there, it’s hard to explain,” said Fernand Saurette.

In addition to the larviciding program, he reasons the recent spell of dry summers is at least partially responsible.

“For the past few years, there have been very low levels of adult mosquitoes, and those are the producers of eggs,” Saurette said.

“So if eggs were not produced last year or the year before, maybe they’re not even there this year to hatch as larvae, which will eventually become adult mosquitoes.”

A city worker uses a biological larvicide to prevent swarms of mosquitoes from growing up. (Ian Froese/CBC)

Wade said people may have gotten used to fewer mosquitoes because of recent years with drought-like conditions, but he said it’s been a typical spring season for mosquitoes thus far.

As it stands, the weather ahead looks promising for those worried about mosquito development: this week looks to be sunny, dry and warm.

That’s good news for people like Lisa Richards from Halifax, who was also out golfing in St. Boniface on Tuesday during a visit to Winnipeg.

“Winnipeg mosquitoes are legendary. We know all about them out east, but I haven’t seen one yet today, so that’s great.” 

The city will only fog as a last resort to control the mosquito population. 

Winnipeg expects larviciding program to keep mosquito count manageable

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Duration 1:59

After one of the wettest springs in memory left Winnipeg swamped with puddles, you may have assumed the city would be buzzing with mosquitoes around now.

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