Last week, the Town of Discovery Bay was swarmed by a scourge of mosquitoes.
Likely hatched in nearby flooded fields, the inland floodwater mosquitoes caused enough trouble to trigger comments on social media pages and forced students at Old River Elementary (ORE) to spend their lunch and recess inside on Wednesday and Thursday.
“The kids (were) getting bit like crazy over here,” said ORE principal Ray Witte. “The kids are having a little bit more reaction to the bites, so we just said we are keeping them inside so they don’t get bit.”
Witte explained that his instructions came from the Knightsen district office, which was in contact with the Contra Costa Mosquito and Vector Control District (CCMVCD).
Nola Woods, public affairs director for CCMVCD said the insects are different than the average bloodsuckers that torment East County, but not dangerous.
“This is a mosquito that is an aggressive biter and it will bite during the day and at dusk,” Woods said. “The key thing about this mosquito is that it is not a known vector of West Nile Virus.”
While students at other Discovery Bay schools were also getting bit during the day, there were fewer problems. Students at Discovery Bay Elementary, Timber Point Elementary and Excelsior Middle School were allowed to eat and play outside, but warned to stay off grass, where the bugs could be developing.
“We did have mosquitoes in the grass because they go for the water in the hot weather,” said Timber Point’s principal Paula McEvoy. “I even got a few bites like the kids, but the mosquitoes were harmless, according to (vector control).”
After three days of ongoing attacks by the mosquitoes, the town finally received relief at the end of the week. Thursday’s afternoon wind gusts and the bugs’ naturally short lifespans ended their reign.
“It is not unusual in that these are mosquitoes that will lay their eggs in the pastures, and when these pastures are flooded, we do see this happen,” said Woods. “The large numbers do tend to dissipate in just a few days, because frankly, they don’t live very long.”
Woods added that East County residents can help prevent infestations like this by checking their yards three to four times a week for standing water and dumping out any that’s found. All mosquitoes require water to develop into adults; keeping yards dry and puddle-free will help to diminish the number of adult mosquitoes, and therefore reduce mosquito-born illness.
CCMVCD encourages residents to wear mosquito repellents containing DEET — an insect-repelling chemical — or a natural product with similar results. Woods cautioned that repellants can wear off and should be reapplied promptly within the specified time limits.
As far as controlling the mosquitoes, CCMVCD did not go out to spray.
“We are not out there doing adult mosquito control for them,” Woods said last week. “We are out there looking in the agricultural areas and doing treatments in those areas. We only use adult mosquito control when our data from testing and trapping of mosquitoes shows us that there is a risk of West Nile Virus transmission to our residents here in Contra Costa County.”
For more information, call CCMVCD at 925-685-9301, or visit their website, www.contracostamosquito.com to post questions or comments.