While East Gippsland residents have embraced the recent return of warmer weather, the welcome hasn’t been as kind for the menacing mosquitoes.
Residents throughout the East Gippsland Shire have reported an increase in the numbers they are continuing to swat.
President of the Bairnsdale Golf Club, Stephen Mann, told the Advertiser “I think they’ve been pretty bad for quite a few months”.
“They’re big enough to carry the chooks away,” Mr Mann said.
The golf club has grounds staff who resort to spraying the course themselves on a regular basis to keep the mosquitoes at bay.
“Years ago you could use stronger poisons on them, but now you’re not allowed to,” Mr Mann said.
He said in years past council played a role in containing the mosquitoes along with breeding prevention.
“I don’t think they do much now though. I would like to know what they do, they’ve really got to do something to control the breeding grounds around Paynesville, Eagle Point and Raymond Island,” Mr Mann said.
Course superintendent, Craig Rimington, described the mosquitoes as “horrors”.
Mr Rimington has taken to spraying the golf course every two to three weeks using the insecticide, Compel Pro.
“It’s an invasive type of process because we’ve got to make sure the golf course is cleared of players before we do it,” Mr Rimington said.
“Sometimes we close the golf course in the morning to spray and we’re really limited with the weather conditions.”
He said a calm, still day, without any wind was essential.
Mr Rimington said a lot of work had been done in keeping grass in the roughs short and lifting foliage off the ground so mosquitoes “can’ t bunker down”.
He believes a previous spraying program council had in place for Eagle Point and Paynesville has ceased.
“Personally I’d like to see an aerial spray application over the course,” he said.
Mr Rimington said the Bairnsdale Golf Club had a reputation for its mosquitoes and it was “disappointing for members and patrons” that more couldn’t be done to contain them.
Further west, the mosquitoes are also wreaking havoc in farming districts around Meerlieu and Lindenow.
Meerlieu resident, Neil Barraclough, says mosquitoes are likely to be active prior to rain.
“If the mozzies are harassing you badly, you’re more likely to get rain,” he said.
“Mozzies tend to be more vicious prior to rain, they are a moderate indicator of rainfall.
“The female mosquito needs to get a tummy full of blood to make eggs, so you’re more likely to get rain if mozzies are excessive.”
Mr Barraclough said there were noticeably less mosquitoes during the drought, which he says is “in part because they have nowhere to breed”.
“When there’s water around they tend to breed more,” he said.
Mr Barraclough said the mosquitoes have recently been “very bad” at work in Bengworden and at home.
“They’ve been bad all through the day, after dusk they go away,” he said. Mr Barraclough said the mosquitoes remained active through a good part of winter, although they only surfaced during the heat of the day. “Colder winters tend to be wetter, so it doesn’t surprise me that the mozzies were more active during a cold winter. Mr Barraclough said he uses an ecofriendly product to keep the mosquitos at bay and which is less harmful to the body. Metung resident, Bob Garbutt, described the mosquitoes as “shocking”.
“It’s much worse than previous years,” he said. “Down at the bowling club (in
Metung) there’ s zillions of them. “I think it’s the wetter conditions that is causing them to hang around.” Johnsonville resident, Lois Smith, who was fishing from Shaving Point, described Metung as notorious for mosquitoes.
“The greenery and water are breeding places for them,” she said. “At Johnsonville they come out at dusk but they’re not too bad in the daytime. “You can’t go out after four o’clock without Aerogard on, they’ll carry you away.”
The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) said East Gippsland Shire Council is part of the Victorian Arbovirus Disease Control Program and undertakes regular mosquito surveillance and control activities.
“Mosquito numbers in the local area fluctuate depending on the conditions,” a DHHS spokesperson said.
“Where mosquito surveillance indicates that numbers may increase above expected levels, control measures are carried out in accessible breeding sites to reduce mosquito numbers that could impact the area in the coming weeks.”
Mosquito-borne diseases such as Ross River Fever virus occur more frequently in regional areas, including East Gippsland.
Symptoms include joint pain and stiffness, headache, fever, rash and fatigue.
Information on how to avoid mosquito bites can be found on the State Government’s Better Health Channel.
Golfers at the Bairnsdale Golf Club have become accustomed to swatting mosquitoes as they make their way around the picturesque course. The club regularly undertakes a spraying program to keep them at bay. K401- 6972