By JOHN FLOWERS
SALISBURY — Relatively dry weather has kept the local mosquito population down this spring, but officials in the county’s two insect control districts have aircraft and supplies at the ready, should swarms rise from the swamps in the coming days.
As the Addison Independent went to press on Friday, mosquito numbers in the county were sparse. But officials acknowledged that a decent drenching — such as the soaking rain scheduled for this past weekend — could spawn new hatches of the pesky critters.
“All it takes is one storm,” state entomologist Jon Turmel said on Thursday. “If we get an inch and a half (of rain) in Rutland, we’re back in business.”
Turmel explained even a small amount of rain could swell the Otter Creek, causing some flooding in adjacent fields and swamps. Standing water and warm weather are the ideal hatching conditions for mosquito larvae.
Usually, melting snow and winter runoff creates an abundance of spots in which mosquitoes can lay eggs.
“We didn’t have those pools all over the woods this year, and that’s been a help,” Turmel said. “But the fact that it’s good right now doesn’t mean anything. It could change overnight.”
When that change occurs, the state has approximately $120,000 that mosquito control districts can tap for larvicide, a substance that is sprayed from the air to kill the mosquito larvae before they hatch. The Brandon-Leicester-Salisbury-Goshen (BLSG) Insect Control District and the newly created Lemon Fair Insect Control District — which encompasses Cornwall and Bridport — are currently eligible for the state’s larvicide assistance.
The Lemon Fair district last week unveiled the Cessna 188B single-engine, crop-duster airplane that will deliver the larvicide to buggy areas. Cornwall Selectman Ed Peet spent five days flying the airplane, built in 1975, from Arkansas, where it was purchased. He arrived at the Middlebury airport last Monday
Volunteers are currently taking water samples in wet portions of Bridport and Cornwall to track levels of mosquito larvae.
“We got the plane on Monday,” said Tom Vanacore, chairman of the Lemon Fair district’s board of supervisors. “We are in the final stages of fine-tuning it and calibrating the spreader for the larvicide.”
When Bridport and Cornwall residents begin to notice a big upswing in mosquitoes, they should call Vanacore at 758-2220.
Meanwhile, all systems are also “go” in the BLSG district. Kim Schroeder, coordinator of the district, said a helicopter is standing at the ready to deliver larvicide, when need be. Schroeder has also ordered some spray to kill adult mosquitoes. That spray will be delivered from two used trucks the district recently purchased with funds contributed by the Lake Dunmore-Fern Lake Association.
Schroeder explained the two previous, older trucks broke down last summer when they were needed most. The new, 2001-model trucks should be dependable for the next four or five years, according to Schroeder.
Anyone in the BLSG district who would like to request mosquito control services should call 247-6779.