Recent heavy rains lead to new warnings about West Nile virus

(Photo: MGN Online)

(Photo: MGN Online)

WHEAT RIDGE, Colo. — The recent wet weather is helping keep Colorado green, but it is also raising concerns about the spread of West Nile Virus.

There are currently eight Colorado counties that have found the illness in mosquitoes and there are five confirmed human cases, but with more potential breeding grounds created in recent days, mosquito control agencies are asking homeowners to do their part to help fight back.

When the sun returned to Wheat Ridge on Thursday, Robert Glass couldn’t wait to mow his lush lawn.

“I love this rain,” Glass said with a smile. “This is fantastic.”

Yes the recent rain has been kind to his yard, but this summer Glass has also found that it can also be a bit too kind to hatching mosquitoes.

“We actually have bug candles out that we had to light this year,” Glass said. “We haven’t had to light those in the six years we’ve been here.”

West Nile is already present in many area counties, but the recent rain can lead to many more mosquitoes that carry the virus. All it takes are small areas of standing water that can form in gutters, planters, toys, kiddie pools and just about anything else that will hold it.

“One coffee can of stagnant water can breed 10,000 mosquitoes in a season,” said Ed Fleming, President of Ottertail Environmental.

That’s why, in addition to mowing his lawn, Robert also dumped out some stagnant water that had pooled up in some old planters.

In places where he wanted the water to stick around, like his bird bath, he used a larvicide called BTI Mosquito Dunks, an environmentally safe tablet that he can drop into the water to prevent them from hatching.

“That’s the same product that we actually use for the bulk of our mosquito control operations,” Fleming said.

Ottertail Environmental, which traps mosquitoes and sprays them for city’s and counties across the state, uses larvicides because they can address the problem before it begins, and it’s harmless to humans and other wildlife.

“It’s very benign to the environment and safe,” Fleming said. “Yet you can get it at hardware stores.”

Glass is thankful for that, because while he welcomes the rain, he doesn’t welcome the pests.

“This year, actually at dusk, they’ve been out,” Glass said. “We’ve noticed them close enough that it’s not enjoyable.”

For a complete list of tips for preventing the spread of West Nile virus at your home, ​ click and look for the “Home and Garden Checklist.”