Wet weather keeping pest control officer busy

By Marlena Hartz: CNJ staff writer

The nets Francis Warner uses to trap mosquitos are equipped with a few of the pest’s favorites things: light and carbon dioxide. Light bulbs and dry ice produce the elements, which mosquitos just can’t seem to resist. When the Clovis vector control officer captures the bugs, he sends them off to Santa Fe for testing.

So far none of the thousands of mosquitos Warner has captured carried the West Nile Virus.

But his crusade to squelch the mosquito population isn’t any less urgent. With August’s rainfall levels more than doubling the region’s average — Clovis received 4 inches in two weeks; the city sometimes goes six months with less — Warner’s job just got harder.

“As much standing water as we have, it absolutely is causing a problem,” said Warner. “The rainfall is creating breeding sites throughout the city.”

The vector control officer spends his days and nights battling vectors — insects and animals that transmit disease to humans, including fleas, ticks, mice and, of course, mosquitos. The latter blood-sucking insect lays eggs in standing water. To nix the mosquito population, Warner treats stagnant water with larvacide. This August, that has been an everyday chore, the city worker said.
Warner isn’t the only one adversely affected by the recent rains.

For corn farmers, there is a thing as too much rain, said Farwell cotton, apple and corn grower Mark Howard.

“(Rain) is usually very welcome,” Howard said. But when it arrives in droves during harvest times, it isn’t as embraced, Howard said — especially among farmers who silage corn, many harvesting now.

“More rain really affects dairies and feed lots. They are the end users. They need (the corn) harvested in a timely manner. Rains can interrupt that,” Howard said.

Parmer County Cotton Growers Co-op manager Randy Mitchell said extra rain, so far, has been pretty favorable.

“Rain,” for a farmer, he summarized, “has to come at the right time.”