Basalt targets larvae in West Nile fight | AspenTimes.com

Basalt targets larvae in West Nile fight

Basalt will try to educate humans and kill mosquito larvae in an effort to protect residents from the West Nile virus next summer.

The town government doesn’t want to spray for adult mosquitos, like many towns and cities do, because it’s costly and they don’t want to pump chemicals into the atmosphere. Pitkin and Eagle counties have adopted similar policies. Garfield County, on the other hand, has budgeted $100,000 to spray to kill adult mosquitos, according to a memo by Basalt staff.

The Basalt Town Council approved use of a larvicide to use in a handful of ponds and standing water sources that are breeding grounds for the pests. The pond on the Levinson property and the Willits pond, next to the soccer field, will be targeted. The larvicide is touted as safe for birds and pets, according to town officials.

Councilwoman Tracy Bennett asked if putting up bat houses would be worthwhile. But Dennis McCaulley of the town public works department said research shows bats will only eat mosquitos as a last resort. “Bats usually like fat, juicy bugs,” he said.

In addition to using larvicide, the town government will invest in a public awareness campaign to advise people to stay inside around dusk, use repellent and to wear long pants and shirts if they must go outside. Posters will be tacked up in convenience stores and public places, and brochures will be mailed to town residents with water bills, according to McCaulley.

The information is coming from the Colorado Department of Health’s “Fight the Bite” program. More information about that campaign can be found at the Web site fightthebitecolorado.com.

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Colorado suffered one of the highest death rates in the country last year from the West Nile virus. There were 2,943 reported cases and 54 deaths. Almost all of them were on the Front Range.

Some health care professionals expect the problem to be worse in 2004.

McCaulley said the public works department won’t bother testing to see if the virus is present in mosquitos next summer. It will test dead birds.

“There’s not going to be trapping because we already know they’re here,” he said.

The Town Council approved spending $1,000 for the measures to battle West Nile.

[Scott Condon’s e-mail address is scondon@aspentimes.com]

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