Striped mosquitoes feed on blood on human skin.

Culex mosquitoes found throughout Garfield County

Warmer temperatures and higher moisture are a recipe for more of the insects

June 29, 2023

Rising temperatures and higher than normal moisture levels in Garfield County this year mean we are experiencing high levels of mosquito activity that may be with us for the next six to eight weeks. In 2022, Garfield County had one reported case of West Nile virus (WNV), which is a mosquito-borne virus that may potentially cause serious illness.

About 1 in 5 people who are infected develop a fever with other symptoms, such as headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash. About 1 in 150 people who are infected develop a severe illness affecting the central nervous system, such as encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord).

Garfield County has collaborated with all six municipalities on a comprehensive mosquito program since 2004. Included in the program are surveillance, monitoring, and treatment activities of key sites that are historically known to be mosquito hotspots.

Education is a key component of the program; the species of mosquito that carries WNV is Culex tarsalis. This mosquito can be found throughout the county, but is most prevalent in the Rifle, Parachute, and Battlement Mesa communities.

We encourage everyone to protect yourself with the “Four Ds.”

• Drain
• Dawn/dusk
• Dress
• Defend

Drain – Mosquitoes breed in standing water. Drain any standing water in your yard each week. Birdbaths, pet water bowls, old tires, and wheelbarrows are common breeding sites. One coffee can that is full of water may breed as many as 10,000 mosquitoes in one season.

Dawn/dusk – The best way to avoid WNV is to avoid mosquito bites. Peak times for Culex activity are from dusk to early dawn. Sunset to about 90 minutes after sunset are the most active “feeding times” for Culex.

Dress – Wear lightweight, long pants, and long-sleeved shirts. Protect your feet as well. For extra protection, spray your repellent of choice on your clothing when outdoors during peak feeding times.

Defend – Insect repellents will protect you against mosquito bites. Have repellent handy where you live, work, and play. Repellent containing the ingredient DEET is recommended. Do not use a product that combines DEET with sunscreen.

There are alternative products to DEET available, too. Studies indicate that products that contain picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus are the most effective active ingredients among alternative repellents.

Contact information:
For more information or questions about West Nile virus or symptoms please contact Garfield County Public Health at 970-625-5200 or 970-945-6614.

For specific mosquito program information – Steve Anthony, Garfield County Vegetation Management at 970-945-1377, ext. 4305, or Doug Furlong, Vector Disease Control International, at 970-440-0158.