Update on aerial mosquito abatement in Washoe County for 2023

May 25, 2023

May 25, 2023. Reno/Sparks, Nev. The Washoe County Health District (WCHD) – Vector Borne Disease Program (VBD) is aiming to conduct environmentally-friendly aerial mosquito abatement via helicopter beginning late June or early July 2023 in Washoe County, and is investing in future options for efficient aerial larviciding processes.

The aerial application is delayed this season because the helicopter company that had been treating Washoe County for more than 30 years announced in late February it was closing pending the owner’s retirement. WCHD is in the process of bringing aboard a new vendor to provide aerial treatment to wetlands and other water sources adjacent to public access, housing, and population sources.

That treatment will occur by late June or early July. More information will be distributed when finalized.

“This time of year, residents have come to expect aerial treatment of public areas where mosquitos are prevalent, such as the North Valleys, Spanish Springs, the Damonte Ranch area and Washoe Lake,” said Kevin Dick, District Health Officer in Washoe County. “We apologize for the delay as we work through these unfortunate circumstances out of our control but pledge to provide this important public health service as soon as possible. In the meantime, we urge residents to be vigilant against mosquitos to prevent West Nile virus (WNV) in our community.”

The VBD program is monitoring mosquito prevalence in Washoe County. Data from traps in the field is preliminary because it’s early in the season; however, mosquito numbers appear to be low-to-average due to constant rains, flowing water and moderate temperatures regionally.

Tips to prevent mosquito bites

It’s recommended that residents who recreate in areas with standing water, wetlands and other water sources, use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellants (find list here). It’s also advised to wear pants and long-sleeve shirts to cover your skin and treat clothing with above mentioned insect repellent.

Additionally, avoiding recreational activity in the early morning and evening hours is advised to decrease risk of mosquito bites.

WNV symptoms & prevention

The main source of West Nile virus transmission to humans is from mosquitos. Cases of WNV can occur during mosquito season, which starts in the summer and continues through fall.

West Nile virus cases are common in Washoe County. People who have WNV often report mild symptoms include fever, headache, and body aches, often with skin rash and swollen lymph glands.  More severe cases experience headache, high fever, stiff neck, disorientation, coma, tremors, paralysis, and death. Find more information at this link.

New options for aerial mosquito treatment coming soon

The Health District is investing in new ways to decrease mosquito populations from public areas known to have mosquitos breeding as well as wetlands and other water sources.

An emerging technology to drop environmentally-friendly pellets (not liquid or spray) that target only mosquitos is through use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV). WCHD has purchased a UAV, also referred to as a drone, and is working with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to plan out industry-standard procedure for larviciding.

This process will allow more flexibility for staff to treat areas with increased mosquito populations that target larvae in the water in order to inhibit their ability to become biting adults. The same treatment used with helicopter application would be used with the UAV, which has no adverse effects to animals or humans in those areas. More information about when those UAV treatments will launch will be provided at a later date.

Check the WCHD – VBD website for more information on mosquito treatment, source reduction, preventative measures, and live updates.

The Washoe County Health District is nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board and has jurisdiction over all public health matters in Reno, Sparks, and Washoe County through the policy-making Washoe County District Board of Health. The District consists of five divisions: Administrative Health Services, Air Quality Management, Community and Clinical Health Services, Environmental Health Services and Epidemiology & Public Health Preparedness. More info can be found here.