Summertime mosquitoes in full force

Jess Oaks
Posted 6/19/24

GOSHEN COUNTY – As summertime officially rolls into Goshen County and the surrounding area, days get longer, and the evenings are more enjoyable. The summertime brings a time to swim, camp, …

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Summertime mosquitoes in full force


GOSHEN COUNTY – As summertime officially rolls into Goshen County and the surrounding area, days get longer, and the evenings are more enjoyable. The summertime brings a time to swim, camp, picnic, and garden. Unfortunately, the summertime also brings mosquitos. 

“Mosquito diseases are the number one animal killer of humans. Mosquitoes can transmit West Nile virus (WNV), Zika virus, Malaria, Yellow fever, Dengue fever, Chikungunya virus, and others,” according to Goshen County Weed and Pest. 

“Warmer weather accompanied by an increase in standing water due to melting ice and snow has created ideal breeding conditions for mosquitoes across the state. While many species of mosquito can be nothing more than an itchy nuisance, some species, like the Culex tarsalis mosquito, can spread WNV, a virus that can be fatal in serious cases,” the Wyoming Weed and Pest Council said in a recent press release. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), WNV can result in febrile illness or neurological disease, including meningitis (inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord) or encephalitis (inflammation of the active brain tissue). There is no specific treatment for the virus and serious symptoms occur in about one in 150 people who are infected, according to the CDC. 

“What I am seeing locally, it is a hit or miss,” Goshen County Weed and Pest Supervisor, Bob Baumgartner said. “It’s a little depending on the areas. Some areas have a high count probably and it seems like the mosquitos are definitely worse. There are other areas where the mosquitos, I mean basically, there are no mosquitos with as dry as it’s been. They just aren’t that bad.”

This time of year, Goshen County generally receives precipitation which can cause an influx of mosquitos.

“This time of the year is more the Aedes mosquitos which are the nuisance mosquitos which don’t carry WNV,” Baumgartner explained. 

According to Baumgartner and his crew, there are two species of mosquitos found in and around Goshen County, Aedes and Culex.

This is also the time of year where the weed and pest team traps mosquitos to test for WNV, according to Baumgartner.

“We focus on WNV,” assistant supervisor, Sarah Hageman explained. “That is where we get our state funding. It is because we test and protect the public from WNV. When I say, ‘protect,’ we can give all of the resources we have, but that doesn’t mean we are going to eliminate WNV,” Hageman said. 

Hageman went on to explain the art of collecting mosquitos for testing.

“I set traps throughout the county. All of these mosquitos fly into a trap, and it is filtered with CO2, so they are attracted to it,” Hageman said. “Then the next morning I go out and pick up the trap, throw it in the freezer and then that afternoon or that week I go through all of these mosquitos, and I separate them into two species. That Aedes, which Bob was talking about, is your nuisance and then your Culex mosquitos which is your WNV carrier.”

Hageman and Baumgartner both agreed, it is a little early to see Culex mosquitos in the area, but the crew continues to monitor the popular breeding grounds. 

“I don’t normally even think about Culex mosquitos until July,” Hageman said. “They aren’t normally out and about. The temperatures have to be pretty high for them to start going. This week, I will look at my traps and I am not expecting to see Culex until probably July 1. But that doesn’t mean that people aren’t getting bit by mosquitos. They are just not the ones that carry WNV,” Hageman explained. 

After years in the field, Hageman explained how she differentiates between the two species of pests.  

“They look different. There is a white band on the Culex’s proboscis (nose) and then the Aedes have different lines on their legs,” Hageman explained. “Some are bigger. Honestly, I have just done it for, this is my seventh summer, so I can look at them without a magnifying glass and just tell. There is a big difference between the two.”

Proper mosquito species identification is one small step for Hageman. 

“I separate those out. I take all of the Culex mosquitos. With our state funding through the emergency insect management grant, we are able to buy something that’s called a ramp tester. I basically muddle these mosquitoes up with the protocol and then I put them on a test strip and put them in our machine,” Hageman said. “The machine says if it is high or low. It tells me a number and that is how we say there is no WNV or there is. But again, just because I tested that pool, doesn’t mean that there is not WNV in Huntley, it just means that mosquito didn’t fly into my trap.”

“The RAMP WNV test is a highly sensitive test used to identify WNV in mosquitoes and corvids. This test is used by mosquito control districts, public health laboratories, veterinary diagnostic laboratories, and universities. The RAMP WNV test consists of a single-use disposable test cartridge to be used with either the portable RAMP Reader or the multi-port RAMP 200,” Azelis, Agriculture Environmental Solutions explained. 

The Culex mosquitos overwinter as mated, female adults and lay multiple eggs in a raft formation, according to weed and pest experts. Culex eggs are found in stagnant water while Aedes mosquitos lay eggs where water will appear in the future.

“What we go off of is numbers and then positive results,” Hageman said. “If we are getting a lot of Culex mosquitos and by a lot I mean sometimes July-August, I am counting close to 5,000 mosquitos in a trap. It’s crazy. They look just like a ball of hair.”

The crew at weed and pest helps control the WNV by organizing aerial applications, monitoring mosquito populations, and providing residents with larvicide and fogging applications.

“That’s the biggest thing that we want the public to know and understand, the funding is for emergency insect management for human health hazards,” Baumgartner explained. “It’s not for the nuisance mosquitos because you’re getting bit on the arm. It’s for control of the mosquitoes that carry the WNV and that’s why in order to get that grant, we live by stipulations and requirements that you track, and we discover a certain amount, that is basically what triggers us to fog.”

The mosquito program is implemented every year with funding from the Emergency Insect Management Grant which is administered by the Wyoming Department of Agriculture, according to weed and pest. 

“We normally start fogging the weekend of July 4 with or without a positive [test]. But when I get a positive, it is always helpful to know, okay, I set traps at Huntley. Well, we fog Huntley on Tuesdays and Thursdays so am I getting WNV on Tuesdays and Thursdays or am I eliminating that population? So, it is a huge round-about circle of saying, that the way we protect people is by seeing if there is WNV out there. If there is, I report it to public health, and then the state of Wyoming has a site that you can say, ‘We had a horse case,’ or ‘We had a human case,’ Hageman explained. 

“In our scenario, I get on every week that I have a positive and I say, ‘Positive pool tested by the ramp tester. How many pools were tested? Five, whatever it was. That is where we record it,” Hageman explained. “I also post it on our website.” 

Weed and pest not only traps the mosquitos for testing, they also provide mosquito control treatments. 

“We trap and then we fog,” Hageman said. “The same areas that I trap each week are being fogged at least twice that week. We normally do an aerial program which goes basically, Cherry Creek,” Hageman said.

“It’s the large breeding areas is basically where a lot of standing water is and things such as that,” Baumgartner explained. “It’s old. It’s historic. It’s where when they initially started the mosquito program, the whole WNV program, the University of Wyoming did a bunch of work and areas were determined, breeding areas. That is historically where we do the aerial program,” Baumgartner said.

“That’s only once a year,” Hageman added. “That’s hard on people too. They want us to spray, and we agree, we should. But we can only afford to do it once a year so we kind of pick our hot zone and when the plains can do it.”

“The aerial program eats up over half of our funding,” Baumgartner added. 

“So, how we protect people is we give out larvicide and I go to farmers markets and put it on Facebook, and I’ll go to field days or whatever and I just give this larvicide to anybody who has standing water around their property,” Hageman said. “They can put it out in their creek bottoms, wherever it is, as long as it’s not running water and that’s how we protect them against mosquitoes.”

Like the CDC and public health recommends, Hageman also believes in the four D’s when it comes to staying protected this year against WNV. 

“Dawn, dusk, defend, dress, and Deet,” Hageman said. “We have a rental fogger. The way the rental fogger works is we have three of them and it is first come first serve. People come in and it is just something you throw in the back of your pickup. That is also something funded through the emergency insect management grant. You pay for it, but it is pretty cheap. It’s our way of helping and then we fog unincorporated towns.” 

“All incorporated towns, Yoder, LaGrange, Lingle, Fort Laramie, Torrington have all got their own program,” Baumgartner explained.

The towns have fogger machines however the larvicide used to control the mosquito population is purchased through the grant funds and weed and pest. 

“We don’t personally fog, but we supply the chemicals so they can fog,” Baumgartner said. “Veteran, Huntley, and all of the unincorporated won’t.”

Hageman said in closing, if the community is worried about mosquitos, they are welcome to call the office and Hageman will explain what the recent test results are indicating. 

“The best thing people can do is to remove standing water,” Baumgartner expressed. “Get rid of the standing water. If you have to have standing water, treat it with the larvicides.”

Larvicides used by weed and pest to control WNV will only kill mosquitos and their larvae and pupae, Hageman expressed. 

“There were 26 cases last year in the state and eight of them were in here,” Goshen County Public Health County Nurse Manager, Kara Palfy said. “Mosquitos also cause heartworm (in pets) so people should be paying attention.”

Palfy recommends using insect repellant, treating your clothing and gear with repellant, and controlling mosquitoes indoors and outdoors.

“The CDC recommends wearing long sleeves and long pants and not being out at dusk to dawn and wearing insect repellant,” Palfy said. 

Palfy further explained, the CDC recommends using an insect repellant which contains Deet even though there is controversy surrounding the product. 

“I remember back in the ‘90s, you know, it’s (Deet) a neurotoxin,” Palfy said. “It’s still a neurotoxin but they still have it in bug sprays and they still recommend it per the directions on the bottle.”

For more information, please contact Goshen County Weed and Pest at (307) 532-3713 or visit their website at