Tribe, town unite to address mosquito problems

Summertime is approaching, when we start spending more time outside.

This season around the Southern Ute Reservation usually entices us to try some kind of outdoor activity — hiking, biking, fishing, softball, or taking in some Little League games. Whatever the activity might be, there’s one thing they all have in common: mosquitos.

Today, we have more concerns with mosquitos than we ever did 20 years ago, the most prominent and dangerous being airborne illnesses, such as West Nile virus.

The Southern Ute Indian Tribe and the Town of Ignacio have signed an agreement to share costs on a contract with Colorado Mosquito Control Inc. for the next three years to control the mosquito population on and around the reservation and the town.

Colorado Mosquito Control utilizes a technique called “integrated pest management.” According to the agreement, it’s “a process consisting of the balanced use of cultural, biological, and least-toxic chemical procedures that are environmentally compatible and economically feasible to reduce pest populations to a tolerable level.”

To control pests 40 or 50 years ago, farmers and pest control services in urban and agricultural areas leaned heavily on chemical insecticides. It resulted in great success in managing human insect-borne diseases and a remarkable increase in food production worldwide.

However, the industry’s heavy reliance on chemicals has incited concerns about the effect of the chemicals on people and the environment. These concerns have led to a shift in the philosophy of pest control and the technique of integrated pest management.

Developments over the past 30 years in mosquito control have allowed the Southern Ute Tribe and the town to implement integrated pest management. The pest-management technique uses computer database technologies, digital aerial photography and geographic information systems (GIS), along with public education and a combination of other scientific applications. The process uses chemical insecticides only when absolutely necessary as a last resort.

All activities performed as part of the Southern Ute Reservation/Town of Ignacio Mosquito Control Program are consistent with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Agriculture and American Mosquito Control Association recommendations.

To make the program work, the experts first assess the distribution, density and species makeup of the target mosquito population. Definition of the risk to humans and equine populations is essential to the success of the program.

One major tool in mosquito control is the CDC light trap. Developed in the 1960s, the trap has been a standard tool for monitoring mosquito population, density and species makeup for approximately 30 years. By luring the female to the device with a CO2 vapor, the trap draws her into a collection bag alive, illuminating mosquito migration patterns and identifying possible new larval sources.

The key to success for pest management is to identify mosquito larvae and eliminate them from growing into adults. But migratory mosquitos will move into the area from outside boundaries, and the only alternative to control is to “fog.”

The use of ultra-low-volume formulated insecticides gives only temporary relief and is not recommended as a cost-effective approach. The adult mosquito management portion of the program consists of two phases, harborage site adulticiding and general adulticiding.

Harborage areas can be cool, humid spots where adult mosquitos gather for sunny, dry periods during daylight hours before taking feeding flights at dusk. Some types of mosquitos with short flight ranges may be permanent residents of these harborages, while others might only stop at the harborages for a short time during migration.

Residual and non-residual treatments are procedures to control such infestation. Residual treatment not only gives immediate control of existing adult mosquitos, but will prevent reinfestation of the area and adjacent areas. It’s typically done using powered backpacks or ATV-mounted sprayers.

Residual treatment offers the advantage of reduced infestation over non-residual treatment.

The agreement with the tribe and the town extends through 2015, and while Colorado Mosquito Control must observe and comply with all applicable federal, state, local and tribal laws, there are ways that you can help reduce the infestation of mosquitos in the area.

For more information on how you can help, visit If you have questions about where CMC will be administering treatments on or around the reservation, call the Southern Ute Range Division at 970-563-0100.

To top