Manitoba

Winnipeg's planned switch to biological mosquito larvicides welcomed

Winnipeg's battle against mosquitoes is about to change this summer, and the city's former entomologist says residents will notice a big difference.

City budget proposes $2.69M increase for city's insect control program

Winnipeg's planned switch to biological mosquito larvicides welcomed

7 years ago
Duration 1:51
Winnipeg's battle against mosquitoes is about to change this summer, and the city's former entomologist says residents will notice a big difference.

Winnipeg's battle against mosquitoes is about to change this summer, and the city's former entomologist says residents will notice a big difference.

For the first time, the city is proposing enough funding in its 2015 budget for a full biological larviciding program for mosquitoes, meaning no chemical larvicides would be used this year.

In promoting the budget on Tuesday, the city called the move to 100 per cent biological larviciding "an effective and environmentally friendly approach to controlling mosquitoes."

The budget proposes a $2.69-million funding increase for the city's insect control program, to $10.3 million this year, to accommodate the biological larviciding plan.

The move is being applauded by Taz Stuart, who says he introduced Winnipeg to biological insect larviciding methods when he was the City of Winnipeg's entomologist.

Stuart told CBC News he wanted to stop using chemical larvicides altogether eight years ago, but the city kept using some chemicals because they were five to 10 times cheaper than biological agents.

He said switching to biological products directly targets insect larvae, while most chemical products kill everything in the body of water where they're applied.

"Oh, it's nice to see the program reach fruition," he said Wednesday.

"Residents of Winnipeg will see some of the major benefits of being 100 per cent microbial … [and] biological because you're seeing the benefits of being targeted to your pest versus doing non-selective control."

Could see more dragonflies

The latest move only applies to larviciding — that is, interrupting the development of larvae into adult insects — and does not affect adult mosquito control using chemicals such as malathion.

Stuart said the city may still use malathion to fog adult mosquitoes if the situation is bad, but he predicts Winnipeggers will see a boost in the number of dragonflies and other insects that feed on mosquitoes this summer.

"Originally back in '04-'05, natural predators within the city were low and it was because they were still using lots of chemical larvicides within the city," he said.

"The biological, as we increased, you're looking at more and more natural predators increasing."

The city's planned switch to biological larvicides was also welcomed by residents like Liz Quesnel, a mother of two living in the city's Wolseley neighbourhood.

"I think it's a step in the right direction," she said.

"I mean, there's so many buffer zones in this neighbourhood alone, due to the chemical nature of the products used, that I think a step in that direction is a positive one."

Stuart noted that homeowners are a key component of a successful mosquito control program, as they can eliminate potential breeding areas by dumping out standing water from bird baths, wading pools and other items in their yards.

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