ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – You might not realize you’re being bitten by a ‘skeeter’ when it’s happening. But the itch afterward reveals the truth: Summertime is mosquito season.
Albuquerque is no stranger to the tiny bloodsuckers. For years, the city has been working hard to make sure mosquitoes don’t get the best of locals.
The city’s Environmental Health Department has an Urban Biology Division. And they are a vital defense against the bugs.
“We trap and test mosquitoes for disease,” said Nicholas Pederson, the city’s Urban Biology Division manager. “And then, depending on what we catch, depending on mosquito numbers, types of mosquitoes, and if we see disease in the community (like West Nile Virus), we actually have a treatment program.”
So, the city keeps an eye on mosquitoes and, if necessary, treats water and spray the air for mosquitoes. But a big part of the program is trapping and monitoring mosquitoes.
“As part of put mosquito surveillance program, we actually set traps trying to catch Aedes aegypti (the small black mosquito that can carry several diseases) and other mosquitoes. And one of these traps,” Pederson explains, “is called a sentinel trap.”
The cylindrical, shop-vacuum-shaped trap uses dry ice to help attract mosquitoes. The sublimating dry ice releases carbon dioxide to draw mosquitoes in, and a scent lure also helps. The dark color of the trap also attracts Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which tend to like to lay eggs in darker-colored containers, Pederson says.
The city places those traps around town and in parks. They also use traps of slightly different-looking variations to collect the bugs. Ultimately, the idea is to make sure mosquitoes aren’t spreading disease.
“The biggest concern with mosquitoes is disease,” Pederson says. “In Albuquerque, West Nile is still our number one concern. Those mosquitoes can be found anywhere. They can be found in the neighborhoods or in the Bosque.”
The mosquitoes that carry West Nile tend to be active during dusk hours and like to live near standing water. So, while the city can – and does – actively treat areas for mosquitoes, Pederson says they can’t treat the entire city, so it’s up to residents to do their part to keep the skeeters at bay.
The main thing everyone can do is make sure there’s no standing water in your yard. Pederson says even as little as a bottle cap full of water is enough for mosquitoes to breed. For more info on backyard tips, check out this KRQE News 13 story.
If you want to request a mosquito spray from the city, you can call 311. Or, if you want to register for the ‘no-spray list,’ 311 is the number to call as well.