WELLFLEET — The summer of 2021 was a season of swat for folks living along the Herring River basin on the Outer Cape.
High tide washovers at Duck Harbor brought Cape Cod Bay water inland, creating a sizable and soggy mosquito nursery. The resulting population boom sent swarms of the flying vampires to backyards and beaches in the area, causing consternation and indoor retreat for irked residents.
But a cooperative effort between the Cape Cod Mosquito Control Project and the Cape Cod National Seashore has officials hopeful that the upcoming bug season might not be as bad as last year. “I’m feeling optimistic,” Gabrielle Sakolsky, superintendent of the mosquito control project, said.
High tide Cape Cod Bay water pours inland at Duck Harbor on Jan. 5. Standing water from these overwashes provided a nursery for a mosquito boom in the area last summer.
Restoring water flow
Sakolsky’s optimism stems from mosquito control’s ongoing efforts to clear ditches in the area, restoring water flow and flushing action. Crews received a permit from the Seashore to do the work and Sakolsky says it has paid off.
“Every time I go out there, I’m amazed at how well it is going,” she said. One good sign: fish have been sighted in the inland waterways, and fish love to nosh on mosquito pupae and larvae.
Geoffrey Sanders, chief of natural resource management and science at the Cape Cod National Seashore, applauded the efforts of mosquito control crews.
“They’ve just done a great job,” he said. “The goal is to be proactive rather than reactive.”
This Google satellite image shows the northwestern portion of Wellfleet, where washovers of Cape Cod Bay into the interior have created a large breeding ground for mosquitoes.
Will larvicide be allowed at the National Seashore?
Still in question is whether the Seashore will issue a permit for mosquito control to apply larvicide to standing water in the area this year. Sanders said the Seashore is consulting with experts, including mosquito control officials, to define a threshold of when additional steps, like larvicide application, might be needed.
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The Seashore is aiming to have that information in place “well in advance of when we would actually need it,” said Sanders.
These developments are good news for Wellfleet resident Jodi Birchall, who was plagued by mosquitos in 2021. “It’s very encouraging,” Birchall said. “There cannot be a summer like last summer.”
More than 2,000 mosquitoes on a scale! The insects, from a trap along the Herring River in Wellfleet, were collected in a short period of time last year by the Cape Cod Mosquito Control Project. “There are so many mosquitoes we are now weighing them,” wrote control project superintendent Gabrielle Sakolsky.
Birchall was in such good spirits over recent developments that she kicked out an appropriate groaner of a pun. “I hope mosquito control takes a ‘bite’ out of this problem,” she said.
This article originally appeared on Cape Cod Times: Cape Cod mosquito management effort to control swarms National Seashore