GREAT SALT LAKE

The downside to the record snow and runoff water: Mosquitoes

Jun 1, 2023, 6:20 PM | Updated: Jun 2, 2023, 5:39 am

DAVIS COUNTY, Utah — Mosquitoes are likely to be a big problem this summer, thanks to all of that much-needed water we now have.

It’s turning out to be a lot of work for mosquito abatement crews as they are now dealing with more marshland than they’ve seen in decades.

Because water levels at the Great Salt Lake have been so far down in recent years, it’s allowing the creation of tens of thousands of acres of freshwater marshlands.

And that’s creating a workload that’s hard to keep up with and hard to reach.

What you can’t reach on the ground, you can treat by air. Right now, that strategy is being used a lot.

This year's runoff is creating thousands of acres of marshland at the Great Salt Lake (KSL TV) A plane sprays for mosquitos along the Great Salt Lake. (KSL TV) A worker is laying out bug traps in the marshes of the Great Salt Lake. (KSL TV)

“We more than tripled the number of acres that we normally spray in May, just because of the large number of adults we’re seeing,” Gary Hatch from the Davis Mosquito Abatement District said.

Hatch added his district now has exponentially more ground to cover than it did during the last few years of serious drought.

It’s really tough to keep up with that. We’re hoping that things start to calm down a little bit,” Hatch added.

The district’s plane sprayed about 45,000 acres last month. But there’s still some work that has to be done by ground.

Mosquito traps give crews a chance to take in large numbers of the pests and check to see what species they’re seeing back at the office.

“In the month of May, we started with high numbers of our flood water mosquitos from all the flooding and now with all that water out there, the mosquitos that carry disease, they lay their eggs on top of the water,” Hatch said.

The species that spread the West Nile virus is starting to show up.

“And they are starting to hatch off in big numbers right snow,” he said.

As the freshwater marsh continues to spread further and further to the west the district has to battle phragmites and invasive weeds too.

Hatch said, “It’s getting so thick in so many spots that getting access to the water, getting access to that habitat is becoming more and more difficult for us to do,” he explained.

That means as we head into summer, we’ll have to do our part to protect ourselves and eliminate standing water in our own yards.

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The downside to the record snow and runoff water: Mosquitoes