Canada's Mosquito Capital Seeks More Dragonflies
WINNIPEG, Manitoba A Canadian city, besieged by voracious mosquitoes each summer, is trying to boost its dragonfly ranks amid hopes the larger flying insect will eat up the smaller blood-sucking pest.
Winnipeg, a small Prairie city, is using less chemicals and targeting mosquitoes with a bacteria that kills their larvae but does not harm young dragonflies, entomologist Taz Stuart said Wednesday.
"We're rebalancing that ecosystem again," Stuart said.
"We're seeing a lot more dragonflies," he said, adding two years of heavy rains have also helped bolster numbers.
Stuart has stocked five local ponds with dragonfly nymphs and will study what impact they have on mosquito larvae counts through the summer. He stocked another five ponds with minnows, which so far have eaten all the mosquito eggs they could find.
"It's successful, but it's early," he said.
The research is a tiny part of the city's C$3.5 million ($2.8 million) budget for controlling the bugs. But Stuart said he hopes to increase biological controls and ease off chemical sprays in coming years.
Mosquitoes are a hot topic in Winnipeg, a city also famous for its long, cold winters.
Many residents advocate fogging adult mosquitoes with malathion so they can spend time outdoors without being attacked. But others decry the use of the pesticide and protesters tried to prevent trucks from spraying the chemical last summer.
The city has not used malathion so far this year because mosquito counts have not been high. Workers have focused on trying to kill larvae before they hatch. But they recently began applying a less-toxic chemical to areas where the bugs hide during the day, Stuart said.