bc-090826-west-nile-mosquitoes

A Moncton biology professor predicts the number of mosquitoes in the southeastern New Brunswick city may double to 110 million when the causeway gates are removed from the Petitcodiac Riverview causeway in 2010.

Greater Moncton could be invaded by plagues of mosquitoes when the gates of the Petitcodiac River causeway are opened.

Louis LaPierre, a biology professor at the University of Moncton and general director of the Greater Moncton Pest Control Commission, said that unless the budget to get rid of the pests is doubled there could be 110 million mosquitoes ready to bite.

LaPierre, who has spent 40 years with the organization that tries to keep mosquitoes at bay during the summer, told Moncton city councillors on Wednesday that he'll need more money once part of the causeway is removed to open up the Petitcodiac River.

LaPierre said it'll take about five years for the ecosystem to stabilize but he expects to see twice as much grass and bogs, which are prime mosquito breeding grounds.

LaPierre said there were 55 million mosquitoes ready to hatch at one point this summer along the river and that could double to 110 million once the gates open.

"We would have to get another field crew. We would have to get additional equipment," he said.

"We would have to buy quite a significant amount of larvacide and that would bring it up to about $200,000 to $250,000."

The city's pest control commission is already working full out to contain the pesky insects.

"We cannot take on an additional surface that would be equal to what we do now with the budget we have," LaPierre said.

Each of the potential 110 million mosquitoes can travel four kilometres in search of blood.

The gates on the controversial causeway are expected to be lifted in 2010.

The provincial government is planning for the causeway to be replaced with a four-lane bridge. Once the new bridge is completed, the existing gate structure would be removed to allow the river to flow freely.

The total cost of the river project is estimated to be $68 million.