Lyon mosquito battle is ongoing | NevadaAppeal.com

Lyon mosquito battle is ongoing

by Sally J. Taylor

After West Nile virus was positively identified in Lyon County, the phones at Pestmaster Services began ringing off the hook.

The company is under contract with Lyon County Vector Control and also handles pest control for homes and businesses.

“It’s been crazy around here,” said Teresa Hollern, the office manager. “All last week, all I did is talk to people.”

Hollern, who moved to the area last year from North Carolina, has been through it all before.

“I went through the (West Nile virus) scare on the East Coast,” she said. “It’s my nightmare all over again. It’s nothing new to me.”

The company began mosquito abatement in Lyon County long before the discovery of West Nile virus in mosquitoes in Fernley and Dayton, and horses in Fallon. After the virus was confirmed, another round of treatment was administered to sloughs and wetlands.

“We don’t treat absolutely everything in the county,” Hollern said. “We are told to concentrate on the wetlands. If we get calls with areas of concern, we’ll go out and check them out.

“Of all the calls we got last week, we didn’t find any larvae, but did put some chemical out.”

Service Manager Scott Stitham gets started about 4:30 a.m. putting larvaecide in standing water and fogging wet areas for adult mosquitoes. Modern, quiet equipment helps him do his job without disturbing neighbors. Because he finishes before morning breezes pick up, most don’t notice the work being done.

“If they can’t hear the fogger, people think we’re not out there,” Hollern said.

But they can’t go everywhere.

Some of the calls Hollern received were for water on lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management. Because Pestmaster’s contract is with Lyon County, they can’t do anything about the federal land. They also have to keep pesticides far away from organic farms.

After last week’s heavy rain, many people called about puddles left by the storms in roads and parking lots.

“That’s not a great concern,” Stitham said. “It takes about two weeks to go from larvae to pupae to adult (mosquito). If there’s a large pond, we’d like to know about it. If it’s a small pond that’s going to dry up in a week, that’s not a problem.

“We do want to hear about tires or ponds that have been there for a couple weeks, anywhere there is standing water. People can help by emptying water standing in flower pots, bird baths, once a week and to – kindly – ask neighbors to do the same. That would be a great help. We can’t get to every back yard. Fogging helps to cover the gaps, to reach areas we can’t get to.”

Both Hollern and Stitham emphasized that, despite the media attention on West Nile virus, the chance of catching it is pretty small.

“The mosquito that carries that virus is one out of about 2,400 varieties,” Stitham said. “The likelihood of catching the disease is very low. But special precautions should still be taken. DEET is great prevention. Wear long pants and long sleeves.”

Sally Taylor is night editor and Dayton reporter for the Nevada Appeal. Contact her at staylor@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1210.