A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

April 17, 2007

Mosquitoes – a small pest, a big threat

Filed under: alpaca, Alpaca Care, Alpacas, camelids, Crias, Family — alpacalady @ 7:24 am

While doing chores today I realized it was time to top up the water in the horses stock tank.  When I went over to turn the faucet on and put the hose into the tank I checked the stock tank to make sure it was clear and free of debris.  As I looked into the water I was surprised to see mosquito larvae. 

It is early in the year for us to be seeing signs of mosquitoes, usually we don’t start seeing larvae until later in May, but with the strange weather we have been having and the additional moisture the mosquitoes have decided it is time to grace us with their presence.

Mosquitoes are bad for a few reasons, the most important of which is that they can act as carriers for West Nile Virus and also Eastern Equine Encephalitis, both diseases which can affect alpacas.  (The mosquitoes also think I am a tasty snack even when I am wearing mosquito repellent which is most annoying).

A few years ago West Nile Virus (WNV) was a major concern to all alpaca farmers.  Several cases of West Nile were reported in alpacas, with the symptoms being subtle and death being fast if the disease was not detected early and was left untreated.  Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) shows symptoms in a slightly slower fashion but will also prove fatal if left untreated.  To keep our alpacas safe from these diseases we take steps to prevent mosquitoes.

While there are various mosquito repellents on the market, most of them just last for a few hours and then are no longer effective.  We do use an equine fly spray on our horses but prefer not to use the same spray on the alpacas.

We make sure that as far as possible we do not have areas of standing water for the mosquitoes to breed in.  Our water buckets are emptied and filled with fresh water twice a day, and following rain storms we check to make sure that standing water has not collected on the property. 

The horses stock tank is large and therefore a bit of a challenge when it comes to mosquito prevention.  We know that some people add goldfish to their stock tanks to keep mosquito larvae at bay but with our collection of barn cats the fish would most likely not last long.  Instead we have found a very handy product called “Mosquito Dunks”.  The Mosquito Dunk is a doughnut shaped product that when immersed in the stock tank prevents the mosquito larvae from hatching.  We tie the dunk to one end of a piece of string and a small rock to the other end of the piece of string and then put the string, rock and dunk in the stock tank.  The dunks are effective for approximately 30 days and are an easy to use method of keeping mosquitoes at bay.  The dunks are also safe enough that the horses can still drink from the stock tank.  As with any insecticide product do be careful with them around small children, with their doughnut shape they could be enticing to a small child and I am sure that eating a mosquito dunk would not be good for a small child.

So this year we will start our mosquito prevention program a little earlier than in previous years.  It’s an important thing to do and as the old saying goes “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”

Wishing you a mosquito free spring and summer.

Rosemary

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