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Tree Hole breed of mosquitoes potentially deadly for dogs

By John Hollenhorst | Posted - Jun. 22, 2010 at 6:02 p.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY -- Get ready for a nasty time in your own backyard -- and be careful with your dog.

Things you can do to reduce mosquito production
  1. Empty all containers that hold water, such as, buckets, cans, used tires, wading pools and other water containers.
  2. Check rain gutters and downspouts. Keep them free of any debris.
  3. Keep street gutters free of leaves and grass clippings.
  4. If you have trees with holes call the District.
Salt Lake City Mosquito Abatement District

A particularly aggressive type of mosquito is coming out in full force this year, and it can infect dogs with a deadly parasite.

In most of Davis and Salt Lake Counties, the mosquitoes that annoy you the most do not come from the wetlands around the Great Salt Lake.

They come out of trees. There's a bumper crop this year, and they are bad news for dogs.

If you see blue spray paint on your trees, you may wonder what it's about. Salt Lake City has 3,000 of them logged into GPS units.

"Usually people come and ask us, 'What? What are you guys doing?'" said Lindsay Koehler with the Salt Lake City Mosquito Abatement District. "We usually just tell them, ‘We're finding mosquitoes in your tree.'"

What is a Western Tree Hole Mosquito?
This mosquito is found in water-filled cavities in almost all types of trees. It is a severe biting pest in some areas of Salt Lake City. More importantly, it can transmit canine heartworm to your pets.

Each year, mosquito abatement crews climb ladders and probe tree holes with a device called a "slurper" that spits out muck.

As often as not, mosquito larvae are swimming and growing in the muck. They'll become nasty adults, a species called the Western Tree Hole Mosquito that bite all day long.

Manager Sammie Dickson with the Salt Lake City Mosquito Abatement District said, "It's a very aggressive biter."

This year, Salt Lake City's 3,000 known tree holes are especially problematic.

"There's a lot of water this year, so we've found more mosquitoes," Koehler said. "Everywhere we go we find them."

Tree Hole Mosquitoes are annoying to backyard gardeners and barbequers, but they can be deadly to dogs.

What is Canine heartworm disease?
Heartworm disease in canines can lead to heart failure, as well as damage to other organs. Clinical signs may not be apparent in the early stages, while heavily infected dogs may eventually show clinical signs such as persistent cough, reluctance to exercise, fatigue, reduced appetite and weight loss.

They transmit the dog heartworm, which was unknown in Utah until 1989. Now there are dozens of cases a year from Hill Air Force Base to Point of the Mountain.

"In Salt Lake City, we probably have a half dozen cases a year," said Dickson. "But if it's your dog, it becomes important."

Chemical briquettes placed in tree holes will stunt the larvae so they never become biting adults.

A different mosquito species that carries West Nile Virus is beginning to emerge in wetland areas, but it's too soon to say if that species will be especially bad this year.

But, Dickson said, "If you live on the east side of Salt Lake City, the Tree Hole Mosquitoes are certainly worse."

In Salt Lake City, crews will come to your home and eradicate mosquitoes for free. They suggest calling if you find an unmarked tree hole or if mosquitoes become an annoyance -- as they are inclined to do.

E-mail: hollenhorst@ksl.com

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John Hollenhorst

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