You may have seen at some point in your life a giant cluster of bees on a branch, tree or other structure usually in late spring or early summer. These big clusters are menacing-looking, but these buzzing masses are actually very safe to be around. They are honeybees, and they are looking for a home.
It’s that time of year again! Last Thursday, vector ecologists Tina and Tara picked up the District’s 14 sentinel chickens and delivered them to two coop locations, one in East Palo Alto and one in San Mateo. Since chickens develop antibodies to mosquito-borne illnesses but don’t get sick themselves, they can serve as a monitoring tool without creating any additional risk of transmission.The chickens will spend the summer at these locations, their leisurely lifestyle interrupted only by bi-weekly blood tests.
Forget about May flowers! As our rainy winter continues into spring’s warmer temperatures, it’s a perfect recipe for mosquito problems.
Since mosquitoes can develop in just a few days when temperatures are warm, you should regularly inspect your property for standing water. Don’t forget small containers like buckets, flower pots, plant saucers, and kids’ toys. Mosquitoes only need a little water to reproduce, so you’ll need to check carefully!
Last month, District staff assisted the San Mateo Resource Conservation District and CBEC Eco Engineering with the flattening of marsh vegetation along the proposed grading alignment of the Pescadero Integrated Flood Reduction & Habitat Enhancement project.
One type of very common, but often overlooked, household insect belongs to the order Collembola. These primitive insects may be unfamiliar to many people, but they are abundant and numerous throughout the world. They occur in habitats ranging from freshwater, animal nests, caves, and glaciers and most commonly in leaf litter, under logs or bark, and soil. These tiny organisms are often called “springtails” because many Collembola families have a rear appendage called a furcula that they use to launch themselves into the air.
In February, a team from the District took a trip to southern California to visit three mosquito and vector control districts to share ideas and learn about their programs. The staff visited San Gabriel County MVCD, Greater Los Angeles MVCD and Orange County MVCD. It was a great trip and staff learned a little something from each district that they can utilize in our program. One of the highlights from the trip was seeing Greater LA’s underground storm drain program, which they have been working on for over 15 years.
At this District, each mosquito control technician is assigned a geographic zone within the county. Currently our service area is split into 9 zones. During February the District rotated the majority of technicians into a different zone. In the picture above, technician Walter Bruj is treating a 12.5 acre marsh in East Palo Alto, which is one of the cities in his new zone. Due to the sheer size of the breeding area, technicians use an Argo all-terrain vehicle for this type of treatment.
In early February, several District staff members had the opportunity to share their knowledge with colleagues from around the state at the Mosquito and Vector Control Association of California 87th Annual Conference.
Officials at San Mateo Mosquito and Vector Control District (SMCMVCD) remind residents that winter is the season for the western black-legged tick (Ixodes pacificus). This tick is the primary vector for Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses in San Mateo County. “Most people think of mountain lions and coyotes as the major risks when enjoying outdoor activites. We’d like to remind people that some real threats come in much smaller packages,” said Laboratory Director Angie Nakano.
At the District, the majority of our tick surveillance focuses on three tick species, Ixodes pacificus, (western black-legged tick), Dermacentor varabilis, (American dog tick) and Dermacentor occidentalis, (Pacific coast tick). These ticks quest for hosts in the vegetation along trails, and are easily picked up by hikers and dogs. While these three species present the greatest risk of disease transmission to humans and pets, there are many more species of ticks that live in San Mateo County that we do not collect as part of our usual surveillance.
Rabies has achieved somewhat of a boogeyman quality due to its high risk of death and tendency to invade the nervous system but did you know that this frightening disease is actually very rare in California?