Camano Island Mosquito Control District #1 was formed in 1995 after a severe infestation of mosquitoes. A few concerned citizens took the initiative to form a mosquito control district. The boundaries of the district were created to take care of the worst of the infested areas at the time. The major areas of concern were at English Boom and Livingston Bay. With continuing efforts we have been able to keep mosquito populations in check at these sites. More sites continue to emerge as people in the district call in to report mosquito problems, currently the district monitors over 300 mosquito breeding sites. Using an Integrated Pest Management approach we will continue to monitor and treat these sites as needed. The Camano Island Mosquito Control District has hopes of someday including all of Camano Island into the district so we can effectively monitor the entire island.
Did you know that Camano Island has the only mosquito control district in Northwest Western Washington?
The Cascade Mountain range from Canada in the north to Oregon in the south divides Washington State. The west side of the cascades is referred to as Western Washington and of course the other side to the east is Eastern Washington. Now, I know there’s more to Washington than East and West but for the point of this article I’ll just leave it at that. The two sides have very different climates; Western Washington is known for its rainy wet climate and Eastern Washington is known for sunny skies and dry weather. In Washington we have eighteen mosquito control districts; fourteen are located in Eastern Washington. Most of these cover only parts of their county but together represent a large area. In contrast, Western Washington has four districts; three in the south along the Columbia River and one in the north Puget Sound area. In most of Western Washington mosquito control districts are virtually unheard of. I sent out a short questionnaire to several counties in Western Washington to see what, if anything, they do for mosquito control. I heard back from several. None of those I contacted have an organized mosquito control program. Some, in the past, have done some larvae surveillance dipping, adult trapping, and dead bird monitoring.
In Whatcom County, they used to actively monitor mosquitoes with adult trapping and larvae dipping. They called their program a “West Nile Virus program” rather than a mosquito control program. They did some public outreach and education as well but now they are only able to answer questions and provide information to other resources. Public Health of Seattle and King County currently does not have a mosquito control program. However, in the past they received funding from CDC via Washington State Department of Health to establish and maintain a West Nile Virus surveillance program. Their program work group consisted of representatives from the City of Seattle PUD, all suburban cities, and the University of Washington. In addition to comprehensive educational resources, the WNV surveillance program included a website and hot line for dead bird reporting. The program also included mosquito trapping, species identification, and WNV testing. In 2009 funding was significantly reduced and the program was eventually eliminated when funding stopped. Several cities in this interagency work group did and continue to do some larviciding and/or adulticiding. Currently Public Health of Seattle and King County is providing educational resources via their website. Snohomish County, at one time, performed a mosquito survey and other activities that included dead bird monitoring and testing of mosquito pools for West Nile Virus. They are no longer performing any mosquito, bird, or West Nile virus surveillance due to budget reductions. Thurston County does not have a mosquito control or WNV program. However they do participate in the Washington State Department of health WNV dead bird surveillance program.
From Whatcom County in the far northwest of Washington to Lewis County in the south, the common theme seems to be that most have had some form of mosquito surveillance in the past. They were mainly looking for West Nile Virus and didn’t seem to be concerned with controlling the mosquitoes unless a health issue was present. In Whatcom County, “Essentially the program ceased for two main reasons: Lack of funding and the lack of evidence of disease transmission from mosquito vectors…” according to Joshua Leinbach Environmental Health Specialist II Whatcom County Health Department. This statement about sums it up for the Puget Sound area and Western Washington; lack of funding and lack of WNV so currently there is no great concern. As for future plans concerning mosquitoes it’s a wait and see attitude. On the other side; Eastern Washington and their fourteen mosquito control districts are better prepared to deal with mosquitoes and the diseases they carry.
The Camano Island Mosquito Control District is governed by a five member Board of Trustees and is managed by the District Manager. As a mosquito control district we are obligated to monitor all reports of mosquitoes, breeding sites and adult populations. This process involves getting out in the field, finding and mapping the mosquito breeding sites, surveying the extent of the problem, and treating the areas using an integrated pest management system. We collect adult mosquitoes to establish mosquito hatch densities, the effectiveness of any larvicide treatments, and what mosquito species are present. Some adult female mosquitoes are sent to the Washington State Department of Health to be tested for West Nile Virus. Public education is also a very important component of an integrated pest management program; many mosquito problems actually start at home. By educating people about mosquitoes everyone can do their part to help control this disease spreading pest.