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The mosquitoes have arrived and now what can be done?
Mosquito products
THESE MOSQUITO ABATEMENT products can be found by consumers at local stores. Bacillus thuringensis products at left and the Mosquito Eradicator tubes at right.

GAYS MILLS - It has been a slower start to the mosquito season in Gays Mills this summer, but it is definitely underway now, according to the affected village residents.

Not every part of the village is impacted in the same way. One badly affected area is located along Highway 131 next to the Cut-off Slough, a backwater of the Kickapoo River–just standing across Highway 131 from the Gays Mills Cemetery last Friday for a half hour proved that point.

Two village officials live in the area–village president Harry Heisz and village trustee Aaron Fortney. Both expressed concern with the situation at the July meeting of the village board.

“They’re out right now,” Heisz said with emphasis on Monday, when asked about the situation.

Both officials had noted the problem last year and Fortney advocated the village look into a couple of solutions–including fogging.

At the July meeting, a long discussion ensued about the viability of fogging in the village. It was noted Soldiers Grove currently fogs that village for mosquitoes. 

While some, like Fortney, supported looking into the viability of fogging for mosquitoes in Gays Mills, others questioned the long-term consequences Involved. 

“We’re investigating what our options are?” Heisz said Monday, when asked about the situation.

At the July board meeting, Gays Mills resident Rachel Jovi referred the board and the public to a website ( to read about the potential dangers of fogging.

Several village trustees expressed some reservations about fogging for mosquitoes in Gays Mills and possible ramifications.

Village trustee Kevin Murray questioned the potential toxicity of the application, while village trustee Albert Zegiel asked about non-toxic alternatives–referencing the product tested in Blue River last year. 

Jim Chellevold, the Director of the Gays Mills Department of Public Works, confirmed at the July meeting that the village-owned fogger is no longer operable. It has not been used in many years.

While some in the village favor fogging, others question the safety of the process and the toxicity of the product being sprayed. The matter was tabled at the July meeting so information could be gathered.

It was noted at the Gays Mills Village Board Meeting that Soldiers Grove fogged for mosquitoes. Brain Copus, the Soldiers Grove Director of Public Works, confirmed the village had fogged for mosquitoes twice so far this year. The village used Anvil 2+2 UVL, according to Copus. 

Anvil 2+2 UVL advertises itself as a pyrethrin-based synthetic pesticide.

Soldiers Grove is currently using a fogger owned by the Village of Viola, which is no longer using it because of citizen complaints.

Copus said there were no complaints about the fogging in the Village of Soldiers Grove and the majority of the citizens supported fogging for mosquitoes. The fogger is mounted on a pallet and has its own tank and motor so it is easy to load into the back of the village’s pickup truck.

The Soldiers Grove Director of Public Works believes the wet and warm conditions this summer will create a bad year for the proliferation of bugs–including mosquitoes.

Copus remembers 15 years ago when the village used a larvicide to control mosquitoes by dropping pellets in water puddles in the park and large blocks of the larvicide into the water body adjoining the park.

So what are some of the other mosquito control methods available? Surprisingly, there are more than a few options from which to choose. Joey Writz, the owner of Driftless Region Vector Control–a LaCrosse-based firm specializing in mosquito control discussed the situation with the Independent-Scout last week. 

Crawford County has hired Vector Control to help with mosquito control, according to Cindy Riniker, the county’s health officer. The firm’s main focus for the county and other customers is controlling the disease-carrying mosquitoes. A particular problem in this area is the control of LaCrosse encephalitis and lately West Nile Virus. 

It turns out that most disease-related mosquito hatches occur in containers– discarded tires, unused birdbaths, dishes under flowerpots and really any area that can collect and hold water. On the other hand, nuisance mosquitoes usually breed in ditches and the backwaters of wetlands.

Writz acknowledged there is some crossover in where disease-related mosquitoes might breed. For instance it appears Nile virus may come from open water breeding as well as container breeding.

In addition to his current business, Writz worked for five years with the LaCrosse County Health Department in their mosquito control program, which focused on the nuisance mosquitoes as well as the disease-related mosquitoes.

Writz explained that most of mosquito control was accomplished with a granular larvicide added to the water where eggs hatched into larvae on their way to becoming flying–stinging mosquitoes.

Writz noted that while LaCrosse owned a functioning truck-mounted sprayer, he had only seen the unit used once in five years. The mosquito-control expert explained using the truck is an expensive method of control that probably doesn’t work that well.

“I don’t think it’s that effective,” Writz said. “It (spraying) only gets the adults that are flying around that come in contact with it. Mosquitoes under leaves or other cover will not be affected (neither will the larva or eggs).”

Writz said depending on the use of larvicide is a much better route to long-term control. The mosquito control expert uses a bacillus thuringiensis subspecies israelensis strain to kill larva in the containers that could cause disease.

Writz buys a 40-pound bag of granular bacillus every season and uses it up during the course of the summer. In battling the disease-carrying mosquitoes, Writz spreads small amounts into containers that collect water and cannot be removed easily for one reason or another. Larva in the water held in the tires or other containers are killed by the bacillus in larvicide.

The non-toxicity of the bacillus is a big plus, according to Writz. The bacillus is only toxic to the larva of mosquitoes and the black fly.  The bacillus is not toxic to humans, mammals, birds, fish, amphibians or even other insects.

While Writz typically orders himself a 40-pound bag of the bacillus-based larvicide every year for use in controlling the disease-carrying mosquitoes, the County of LaCrosse orders a pallet or more of the bags. In addition to targeting the disease-carrying mosquitoes, LaCrosse also attempts to curtail the presence of the nuisance mosquitoes. And, to that end, employees spread the larvicide in the backwaters of marshes from adjoining highways.

There’s also a brand new method of mosquito abatement invented by Spartan Mosquito, a Mississippi-based company. Spartan’s Mosquito Eradicator is an 11-inch tube filled with a formula that is activated by filling the tube with warm water. The tube is then capped and hung in an obscure part of the property at height of about six feet optimally against the base of a tree. The water level must be maintained to minimum level of about 6.5 inches from the bottom of the tube. If the water level is maintained, and tubes do not overfill from rain, the company claims they will eliminate mosquitoes on a one-acre property for up to 90 days. Proper placement and maintenance is emphasized in the Mosquito Eradicator instructions.

The Mosquito Eradicator lists the ingredients as: the active ingredient–11.48 percent sodium chloride (salt); inert ingredients–88.34 percent sucrose (sugar); and .18 percent yeast.

The Village of Gays Mills learned about the Mosquito Eradicators last summer when they heard the Village of Blue River was using them. In fact, Spartan Mosquito did a study of the mosquitoes in Blue River at one point. 

Well how’d they work in Blue River?

The village had 10,000 ‘Eradicators’ up last year and there was hardly any problem with mosquitoes,” according to Chad Williamson, the Director of Public Works for Blue River. That’s quite a claim for a village previously called the ‘Mosquito Capitol.’

This year, the village sprayed twice for events held in the village park in late May. Williamson said he decided to spray instead of deploy the ‘Eradicators’ because they tend to need weather in the 80s.

Actually, the material included with the ‘Eradicator’ says they need water over 80 degrees to get the tubes activated, but once activated they will continue to work even if the temperature goes down.

Back to Blue River, Williamson said the village has yet to have mosquito problems reported this year and is still waiting to deploy the ‘Eradicators.’ 

If all those methods are not enough of a selection, there are the natural predators that also control the mosquito population.

One of the biggest predators are bats and although some varieties of bats are in decline due to a disease known as White Nose Syndrome, other species are unaffected. Birds are another source of predation. From barn swallows to purple martins and more, birds eat insects–and in particular mosquitoes. Then, there are fish. Goldfish, guppies, bass, bluegill and catfish prey on mosquito larva. Finally, there’s a group of beneficial insects that eat mosquitoes as well–dragonflies and damselflies are examples.

What will Gays Mills do to try to limit its mosquito population? Stay tuned–there’s a village board meeting scheduled for Monday, Aug. 5 in the Board Room of the Gays Mills Community Commerce Center located on Highway 131. It starts at 6 p.m.