By Starrla Cray
WRIGHT, McLEOD, MEEKER, CARVER COUNTIES, MN Are uninvited summer guests buzzing their way into your town?
When it comes to mosquito control, some cities spray, while others let nature take its course.
Howard Lake, Delano, and Montrose have their own spraying equipment, and Winsted hires an outside company to kill the itch-inducing insects.
The cities of Mayer and New Germany don’t spray, but because they’re in Carver County, spraying is available through the Metropolitan Mosquito Control District.
A few cities, including Cokato, Dassel, and Waverly, have decided not to spray at all.
“We don’t have any mosquitoes,” Cokato city administrator Don Levens joked. He said that money is the main reason the city doesn’t spray.
“Many, many, many years ago we did some spraying in conjunction with the Corn Carnival, but we haven’t done it in recent years,” he said.
Waverly city maintenance worker Jim Woitalla said mosquito control hasn’t been in Waverly’s budget, either.
“We have so much swampland around us,” he said. “It wouldn’t be cost-effective.” Waverly covers a relatively large area compared to its population, and spraying would create a financial burden to the residents, Woitalla explained.
Dassel City Administrator Myles McGrath said his city hasn’t sprayed in a number of years.
“I think the city has found it to be rather ineffective,” he said.
Some cities, however, have decided that mosquito spraying is well worth the cost.
Winsted hires spraying
In Winsted, for example, the city hires Clarke, a global environmental products and services company in Clearwater. Sprayings for this summer are scheduled for every other Wednesday evening.
“We can change that up as we see fit,” said Dave Meyer of the city’s public works department.
The city pays about $600 to $700 per application, which Meyer said is less expensive than buying all the equipment. This is the third or fourth summer Winsted has hired Clarke.
“Otherwise, we never used to spray,” Meyer said, adding that the West Nile virus was a factor that prompted the city to start spraying.
“I live in town, and you can tell when they spray,” Meyer said. “Some like it; some don’t. You can’t please everybody, but the general consensus is that is that people like it.”
Delano does its own
Delano has its own equipment, and takes a slightly different approach to mosquito control.
“We try to hit all the parks,” public works director Ernie Eden said. They also try to get water retaining ponds and wetland areas.
“We have a lot of activities going on in Central Park,” he said. “Before an event, we like to go out and spray.”
The city doesn’t have a set schedule, but does select areas as needed. It sprayed Thursday, which was the second time this season.
“Last year, we only sprayed three or four times,” Eden said.
As for cost, he estimates it at roughly $100 per hour, including man hours, use of the truck, fuel, and the spray.
The chemicals used vary city by city, but all of them have been tested for safety. Delano uses Anvil 2 Plus 2, an insecticide with an active ingredient called sumithrin.
Montrose uses a mist
Montrose uses a Mosquito Mist One ULV, from Clarke Mosquito Control Products.
“It will not affect people,” said Roger Vanderlinde of public works. “Ever since we’ve been spraying, about 10 years, we’ve been using it,”
His city sprays twice a week once on the north side of town, and once on the south side.
“You drive around a little faster than 10 miles per hour,” Vanderlinde said. “A still, humid night is the best, because it just hangs in the air.”
Around sunset is also when the mosquitoes are most active, he added.
The cost of a 30-gallon drum of mist is about $1,200.
“That’ll last probably two years,” Vanderlinde said.
Montrose will start spraying later in June, and stop in August, after Montrose’s city celebration has ended. The city has already started a different type of mosquito control, however, with pellets that kill larvae.
“It’s just something you put in ponds and breeding areas,” Vanderlinde said.
HL sprays weekly
Howard Lake sprays the city for mosquitoes every Thursday evening, which takes about two hours.
“We always start the Thursday before Memorial weekend,” said Tim Kosek of public works. Depending upon the moisture levels, they usually stop the first or second week in September.
“If we get a dry spell, it slows down,” Kosek said.
Howard Lake started spraying about five years ago, mainly using a chemical called Permethrin. It uses about seven or eight gallons of spray at a time, at a cost of $35 per gallon.
The city also uses a barrier mist once a month in the parks and baseball fields, which helps keep mosquitoes out of the area, in addition to killing them. The barrier is applied with a backpack fogger on non-windy days.
Mosquito control in Howard Lake has been very successful, according to Kosek.
“Instead of having 10 mosquitoes on you, you might have one,” he said. “People are happy. They’re glad we’re out there.”
In Carver County, mosquito control is provided by the Metropolitan Mosquito Control District (MMCD). The organization covers the Twin Cities metro area, which includes Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott, and Washington counties.
MMCD primarily does larvae control, but also uses environmentally-safe sprays to kill adult mosquitoes.
It surveys areas that are most needed, Stark said, but cities like Mayer and New Germany can also contact MMCD if additional mosquito control is needed.
“We are a tax-supported organization,” said MMCD’s executive director Jim Stark. According to www.mmcd.org, it is a special taxing district funded by property taxes collected entirely within the service area. In 2009, a property assessed at $250,000 was charged about $12.25 for mosquito control.
To learn more about mosquito control in a specific city, contact the city’s main office or public works department.