Fight against mosquitoes takes to the skies

Image 1 of 3

As temperatures rise, a new war is brewing against mosquitoes in the Twin Cities metro area.

The Metropolitan Mosquito Control District is preparing to fight the insects while they are still in their larva stage. This week, helicopter pilots, like Theresa Lokken, are air-dropping practice pellets onto targets on the ground to make sure they’re zeroed-in for the real deal growing in the water.

“I think we’ve learned over the years, it’s so important to get the bugs before they turn into flying mosquitos,” said Lokken.

“We make sure when we do larval control that we're putting the mosquitoes in in the right rate, the right pattern,” said Mike McLean of the Metropolitan Mosquito Control District.

Tuesday’s practice drops were measured and tracked to get them just right for runs starting in the next week or so when tiny bacteria-laced pellets designed to take out only mosquito larvae are deployed.

“Anything else that eats them it doesn’t bother them,” said McLean.

“The weather is getting so nice, but the water is still cold, so when the temps warm up and they start breeding, we get out like gang busters,” said Lokken.

“We’re looking at a pretty average season when it comes to the amount of mosquito breeding, but that can all change in a heartbeat if we get storms in the month of May; we can have a bumper crop,” said McLean.

This year, Metropolitan Mosquito Control District pilots have a new tool at their disposal called Ag-Nav, which allows for more precision strikes in the field.

“They send us a map of exactly where we need to go, so it really allows us to be more efficient because we can go directly to the site,” said Lokken.

“If people call us about a helicopter or concerns, we can see the helicopters right away and see what they’re doing,” said Nancy Read, the Metropolitan Mosquito Control District technical coordinator.

Experts say a helicopter isn’t necessary to help prevent mosquitoes on your property. One tip is to make sure you’re looking around and getting rid of standing water around your home.