Akron to spray for mosquitoes this summer

Posted February 28, 2019 at 6:00 am

By Julie Ann Madden

Residents won’t need to ask “Who you gonna call?” this summer to get rid of mosquitoes.

At their Feb. 12 meeting, the Akron City Council authorized Mayor Sharon Frerichs to enter into a contract with Matt Welter, owner of Mosquito Control of Iowa.

Welter informed the council about his insecticide spraying business, beginning with it’s a Rolfe, Iowa, family-owned business with more than 50 years of experience and a motto of “Mosquitoes can come…but they can’t hide!!!”

Chemicals

All the products we use are EPA-registered, labeled for use over cities and people,” said Welter, noting a lot of the chemicals’ active ingredients are the same ones people use to treat head lice in humans and ticks and fleas in animals.

Such chemicals have direct-contact with skin, he explained, adding clothing are infused with these chemicals.

“It’s a very safe product,” said Welter.

Mosquito Pests

Welter explained there are over 5,000 species of mosquitoes, of which 52 are known to be in Iowa.

There are two main “nuisance” species Mosquito Control of Iowa sprays for:

• Aedes Vixen, nicknamed the “Flood Water mosquito.” It is a nighttime pest and it can fly more than 16 miles in its lifetime; and

• Culex Pipiens, which are the disease-carrying mosquitoes and flies in the afternoon but only travels about 800 feet in their lifetime.

Company officials base their spraying upon weather patterns and the mosquitoes’ life cycles.

Control Treatments

“Killing mosquitoes is very easy,” said Welter. “The hard thing is getting the chemical to them. The droplet size is extremely crucial in mosquito control.”

Large droplets don’t stay airborne long enough to get it to the target (insect), he said, explaining very small droplets are needed to kill the small insects and not hurt larger insects such as butterflies.

Droplet calibration is very crucial, said Welter, noting his company is the only one in Iowa with an in-house lab with equipment for droplet size analysis and species identification.

We have the capability to control mosquito populations from larvae to adults but primarily focus on adults, said Welter. To apply the chemicals, we use Argos, ATVs, drones, back packs, hand-held electric sprayers and Buffalo Turbines, depending on size and location of water bodies and mosquito habitats.

They can treat storm sewer areas and apply a city-wide residual to penetrate and cover vegetation.

Spraying chemicals last about an hour (killing mosquitoes) and the residual treatments, which take about one-half hour to dry, last four to six weeks, said Welter.

In response to questions Welter said his treatments are not effective in controlling gnats. They do work with beekeepers regarding spraying and have never had any major bee kills.

The number of times they spray is dependent on precipitation and mosquito populations he said. If it rains on a Tuesday, then a mosquito hatch will happen Thursday or Friday and they come spray.

Control treatments are done after dark and the employee will spray street by street, depending on wind direction, insect population and chemical movement.

“The actual amount of chemical we are putting out (in a 300 feet square city block, which is about 2.3 acres) — if you put a water drop in front of you on the table that is actually how much active ingredient we are spraying over that whole block,” said Welter. “So the amount of chemical we are putting out is very, very small. It looks like this ginormous cloud because we are breaking it down into these very small droplets but it’s very low concentration.”

The vehicle’s speed is between 15 and 20 mph while spraying, said Welter.

Spray Prenotification

Residents who object to their properties being sprayed are given prenotification and any complaints are dealt with by Welter’s company.

Spraying Contract

Welter’s mosquito control for Akron includes the spraying residential and park areas for $5,500. Applying a residual treatment on the golf course would cost an additional $1,000. The actual written bid/contract was not available at the meeting.

Councilor Alex Pick made the motion to authorize Frerichs to sign the bid contract, and Councilor Joseph Small seconded it. The vote was unanimous, 5-0.

Other Business

The only other business the council had on the agenda was hiring of summer help.

Councilor Denise Loutsch-Beitelspacher made the motion to authorize City Administrator Dan Rolfes to hire summer help and Councilor Kasey Mitchell seconded it. The vote was unanimous. Rolfes told the council he would hire two street department employees, a park caretaker, swimming pool manager and lifeguards.

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