Avoiding West Nile virus
—Richard “Bugman” Fagerlund
West Nile virus has been in the news recently and probably will continue to be through September and early October.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control estimates that less than 1% of those bitten by a WNV-bearing mosquito will become severely ill; others (perhaps 20 %) may develop only flu-like symptoms, which actually may lead to a natural immunity to WNV.
Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing (not necessarily stagnant) water. As soon as the chlorine or chloramine evaporates from tap water, and a little protein (plant waste, etc) is added, mosquito development may occur. In hot weather they can go from egg stage to flight in ten to forty days, depending on the species.
West Nile virus can be carried by many species of mosquito, so there is no "safe" time to be outdoors when they are present. They are attracted to the carbon dioxide we exhale. They get WNV from birds, then transmit it to humans. Mosquitoes are most active at 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit, less active at 50-70 degrees., and don't fly below 50 degrees.
Wear light-colored shirts with long sleeves. Inspect all of your screens. Use netting for sleeping and camping and to protect infants.
Change water in birdbaths twice a week.
Ornamental ponds: get "mosquito fish " (Gambusia affinis) from your mosquito/vector control department, health department, or pet shop. Goldfish are not dependable for mosquito control because they are primarily bottom feeders. Mosquito fish feed at the surface where the mosquito larvae develop.
If the pond has a waterfall or fountain and circulates vigorously, it may not allow mosquito development, but should be monitored. If it is a calm pond and has no mosquito fish in it, apply one to two tablespoons of cheap cooking oil per square yard of water surface(oil suffocates the developing larvae), and check it weekly.
Stock-watering troughs: Treat as ponds (above). Three mosquito fish will control a bathtub-size trough (and entertain the horses).
Unused, unchlorinated swimming or wading pools: Drain or use mosquito fish. If a pool cover sags, it may collect water. Float beach balls on the water surface to elevate the cover. Inspect weekly.
Check culverts, drainage ditches, tire tracks, flat roofs, and rain gutters. Check seldom-used toilets in barns, workshops, RVs, etc. Old tires are a major source; drain or fill with soil. Drill half-inch holes in tire swings.
Use a mosquito repellent, but preferably one that is natural. Catnip is every bit as effective as DEET products and much safer to use; and you can get it locally. It is available on-line from www.insectrepel.com, an Albuquerque company. Catnip repellent is also effective against other biting insects, such as biting midges (aka punkies and no-see-ums)
Richard Andrew Fagerlund, B.C.E., is a teacher in Environmental Services at the University of New Mexico and lives in Corrales.He is working on a book about cockfighting, dogfighting, factory farming, and other forms of animal cruelty and would be interested in opinions regarding these activities from people in other countries as well as the U.S. E-mail: email@example.com or visit www.askthebugman.com.
During Bob Meyers' talk, the fire brigade received a call to remove a Bull snake from a resident's closet in the San Francisco Hills area of Placitas. The snake was brought back to the fire brigade building where Meyers showed it to the audience remarking about how beneficial bull snakes can be for catching rodents outside of your home.
Living with rattlesnakes
On Saturday, August 23, Bob Myers from the Albuquerque Old Town Rattlesnake Museum spoke for two hours to an interested group about rattlesnakes and our relationship to them. Myers showed a variety of non-poisonous snakes and then ended with a Prairie Rattlesnake and a Diamondback rattler common to the immediate area.
His presentation relayed the following useful information:
- New Mexico has the largest number of rattlesnake varieties of any state in the US.
- Rattlesnake bites are rarely fatal, but can cause extreme pain and loss of fingers or hands if bitten there and not treated promptly.
- Anyone bitten by a rattlesnake should seek treatment from a hospital as soon as possible. UNM Hospital being the best qualified in Meyers' opinion.
- 20% of adult rattlesnake bites are "dry" bites with no venom.
- Snakes are not aggressive and will not chase people. But snakes will bite if the person comes too close enough or comes within striking distance and the snake feels threatened.
- Snakes can strike up to 1/2 of their length.
- Snakes can strike about 4 times faster than Mike Tyson can throw a punch.
- Dogs and cats are better suited to surviving a rattlesnake bites without treatment although should be brought to a veterinarian to be checked.
- Snakes live and breed in the same den year after year. Relocating snakes to another area can often result in the snake being unable to find shelter and dying.
- Snakes eat mice and other rodents and are beneficial.
The Old Town Rattlesnake Museum has volunteers who will come out and remove rattlesnakes but the persons who call the museum need to keep a close eye on the snakes to see where they go. The Museum is non-profit and accepts donations. The Rattlesnake Museum and Gift Shop is located at 202-1/2 SanFelipe. For more information, call 242-6569.
Sandoval County Fair attracts talent, high bids
The 2003 Sandoval County Fair and Rodeo proved highly successful in attracting an abundance of talented exhibitors.
"Buyers at the livestock auction this year were very generous as they contributed high bid amounts toward the animals and poultry raised by the children," said Elizabeth Johnson, county commissioner for District 5 and the county fair board treasurer.
"We had great attendance," Johnson said. "There was a real abundance of talent on display by 4-H members and residents alike. We even had the fairground's new exhibit hall on display even though the building wasn't quite ready for use this year."
The Sandoval County Fair and Rodeo is held annually during the first weekend of August at the fairgrounds near Cuba. This year's event drew visitors and participants from across Sandoval County.
"Everyone who attended enjoyed a wide mixture of events and opportunities to share the cultures and heritage that make Sandoval County so unique," Johnson said.
"We are very fortunate to have the support of buyers from across the region," Johnson said. "The kids work very hard throughout the year to raise their livestock and learn proper techniques for showing the animals. Still, it's the buyers and contributors who make that hard work worthwhile for the benefit of the kids."
The fair's grand-champion steer raised by Lee Johnson of Cuba topped all sale amounts with $3,000 bid by Don Chalmers of Don Chalmers Ford in Rio Rancho, who has purchased the fair's grand-champion steer for the past several years.
Tires Plus of Albuquerque was high bidder for the grand-champion swine raised by Stephan Montoya of Jemez Springs, and Cuba's 7-11 Store won the grand-champion lamb raised by Cassidy Martin of Jemez Springs. PNM bought the grand-champion goat raised by Lee Johnson. Jim and Felicie Truscio of Rio Rancho were top bidders for the grand-champion rabbit raised by James Vallo of Bernalillo, and Brad Hays of Corrales won the grand-champion poultry raised by Megan Stewart of Bernalillo.
Chelsi Kannon, eighteen, of Cuba won the fair's showmanship award for the highest overall points for properly showing a horse, steer, lamb, pig, and goat.
During the fair's final day, Ketura Martin, eighteen, of Corrales was crowned fair queen in ceremonies at the rodeo, succeeding Chelsi Kannon. Angela Stash, thirteen, of Jemez Pueblo was crowned fair princess and Renee Dill, ten, of Jemez Springs was crowned sweetheart.
County residents had hundreds of exhibits on display for judging while arts and crafts produced by local residents were available for purchase. In the fair's cook-off competition, Scott Gasser of Lindrith won top honors with a Cajun beef dinner, followed by Maria Rodriguez of Cuba, who prepared a red chile dish.
"An unusual event at the auction this year was when a cake, minus a slice removed for the taste-testing competition, was so hotly desired that it was auctioned for the amazing sum of $55," Johnson said. "The winner, Dan Bunten of Albuquerque, then shared the cake with bidders, noting it was the most expensive cake he had purchased, with the possible exception of a wedding cake."
Sandoval County and Intel Corporation sponsored the fair and provided funds for the auction and rodeo. Many other generous sponsors and buyers raised more than $36,000 for 4-H Club members who auctioned animals during this year's festival.