Spring runoff will soon fill canals, creeks, reservoirs and open ground in the Eastern Sierra. The water will pool up and become ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes. With an historic amount of water comes an historic amount of mosquitoes. The bug swarms probably won’t blot out the sun, but that might depend on where you’re standing.
Nathan Reade, Inyo-Mono Agricultural Commissioner said his office started planning for the mosquitoes after the first round of storms in January. Mosquito Abatement is under the umbrella of the Commissioner’s Office.
Reade has been talking to retired local Mosquito Abatement managers and pouring over maps of runoff and water spreading from the only other snow years bigger than 2017; 1969 and 1983.
This year, there’s more standing water than there was in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Since 2006, the Lower Owens River Project has restored and re-watered 62 miles of waterway in Inyo County. The project also supports 1,800 acres of wildlife habitat by providing water for small lakes and ponds.
Inyo County Mosquito Abatement has been stockpiling pesticides in anticipation of mosquito season, Reade said.
Mosquito Abatement has a record five seasonal employees for this year and they’re already working. The extra hands may make up for the lack of experience and knowledge on staff this year, Reade explained. The manager’s position has not been filled following the retirement of Chris Wickham, but Mosquito Control Technician Rob Miller has been working for Mosquito Abatement for more than 17 seasons.
Reade said the department would still face challenges if there were 50 people working this year, as there are going to be an unprecedented number of places for the bugs to live and reproduce.
According to Rosemary Drisdelle’s, Malaria Killed Half the People That Ever Lived, and related articles from the BBC, mosquitos have killed more people throughout human history than anything else including war, famine, and drought.