Mosquitos and
West Nile Virus
on the Ranch
By Carol Rawle

When I learned that West Nile Virus would most probably emerge in our county this summmer, I was concerned to say the least.  Mosquitos are an annoying problem at best, but this disease they carry turns it into a whole other issue.  I live near one of the large ponds in Gallinas, have a small standing pond just below my house following rainy periods, and I have rain barrels.  All these contribute to a mosquito population where I live.  I've been fighting the larvae in the small pond and my rain barrels by pouring cooking oil on the water, but while it is highly effective in killing the larvae and safe for wildlife, it is short lived and very messy.

Then I heard about a product that is very inexpensive, non-toxic to wildlife, fish, and pets, easy to use, and long lasting.  It's a biological larvicide sold by Professional Pest Control Products, and you can order it over the internet or phone.  The product is called MOSQUITO DUNKS and you just toss them into the water and it works by releasing a long-term, biological larvicide at the water's surface.  This larvicide gradually settles in the water where it is eaten by the mosquito larvae growing there.  You can use it anywhere and everywhere mosquito larvae grow.  Alternate wetting and drying will not reduce their effectiveness.  This product is registered for use in all 50 states.

One Mosquito Dunk will treat up to 100 square feet of water surface.  For 5 to 25 square feet use 1/2 Dunk.  For rain barrels or small puddles, use 1/4 Dunk.  If you have an area that becomes flooded after a rain, but is dry at present, just place a Dunk of the correct size in that area, and it will start working when the area floods following the next rain.

Since it could take up to two weeks for this product to affect existing mosquito populations, you can use MOSQUITO BITS for a quick knock-down of a heavily infested water source.  This product will work in just 24 hours to kill larvae.  You uniformly sprinkle one teaspoon per 25 square feet over the surface of any standing water.  Then you just toss in a DUNK for long term control.

If you have rain barrels, rain gutters that retain small amounts of water, bird baths, flower pots, fish ponds, old tires, even tree holes, this product will easily control mosquitos.  I even talked the POA into ordering this stuff to treat all the ponds on the common areas.

Locally, Mosquito Dunks are available at Big R in Trinidad for $11.00 for a package of six.  If you'd like to order over the Internet, they cost $1.25 each if you order the package of 20.  A package of six Dunks costs $10.  An 8 oz container of Mosquito Bits runs $9.50.  A 36 oz container runs $14.50.  To order on line go to www.pestproducts.com/mosquito_dunks.htm or call 1-800-434-4555.

The POA is setting a good example and being a responsible good neighbor by treating the water sources under its control.  For the West Nile Virus to be kept under control and not a threat to the lives and health of all of us on the SFTR Ranch, we each need to be vigilant and proactive.  Now we know about a safe, easy, inexpensive way to do it.