Summer is in full swing, and while for most people that means swimming, camping and fishing, for Matt Hutchinson it means something that can interfere with all those activities — mosquitoes.
Hutchinson is the manager of the Baker Valley Vector Control District, a property tax-funded district that includes Baker City and most of the Baker, Keating and Bowen valleys.
The District was formed by voters in 1975.
Voters in the May election decided to extend for another 4 years the tax levy that supplies some of the district’s budget (it also receives property taxes from a permanent levy that doesn’t go before voters periodically).
Hutchinson said the recent increase in mosquito numbers, both inside Baker City and elsewhere, are “pretty typical for the time of year.”
While it’s impossible to eradicate mosquitoes, Hutchinson said he and his crew of seasonal employees do all they can to make sure the problem doesn’t get out of hand.
“Every week we check all of our larvae sites and try to get them ahead of time,” he said.
Hutchinson’s top priority is to kill mosquito larvae before they hatch into adults.
Hutchinson said mosquitoes are mostly popping up in areas with heavy flood irrigation, such as Chandler Lane and Wingville Lane between Baker City and Haines, so that’s where the District staff has been focusing its efforts.
Employees routinely examine mosquito traps set up around the District, including in Baker City.
Hutchinson said he hasn’t found enough mosquitoes in traps in and near town to warrant widespread spraying.
But he encourages residents to take simple steps to prevent mosquitoes from hatching on their own properties.
“With all the rain lately, it’d be a good idea for homeowners to dump things that hold water, like cans, bird baths and bucket — anything that can hold stagnant water,” Hutchinson said.
Residents can report mosquito infestations by calling the District at 541-523-1151, or online at www.bvvcd.org The website also has information about the District’s tactics, West Nile virus and other related topics.