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Culex tarsis mosquito...

Culex tarsis Mosuqito

Saturday,  May 26th - West Nile Protection...

Though much of the news lately has concentrated on plague and hantavirus, we need to remember that the threat of West Nile Virus is still with us. 

“There aren’t many mosquitoes out yet, but there is still a possibility of being bitten and infected,” said Dr. Adrienne LeBailly, director of the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment. “It’s important to start wearing mosquito repellent now as we start spending more time outdoors.”

West Nile Virus is transmitted to people through the bite of an infected mosquito. The numbers of the type of mosquito that carries West Nile Virus have been highest during mid-summer, when the majority of West Nile infection has occurred. However, infected mosquitoes may be circulating and May and June as well. 

“With this beautiful spring weather and long holiday weekends, people will be out camping, hiking and doing yard work,” said LeBailly. It’s a great time to start getting in the habit of applying an effective mosquito repellent before spending time outdoors at times when mosquitoes are active.”

Of most concern are the Culex mosquitoes, which are the main transmitters of West Nile Virus. “Some Culex mosquitoes can make it through the winter carrying the virus, which means some that were infected last summer could be biting now,” LeBailly warned. “This is a perfect time for Larimer County residents to begin taking steps to minimize their contact with mosquitoes, now and later in the summer, when the risk is higher.” 

To help minimize contact with mosquitoes as you take part in early summer outdoor activities, the Department of Health and Environment recommends the following:

  • Wear an insect repellent containing DEET, following instructions carefully, whenever you are outside, hiking in the foothills or in the backwoods, fishing, camping, or even when relaxing in the backyard. Be sure to apply repellent on children and elderly, following instructions on the label or container. 

  • Avoid outdoor activities at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active. 

  • Wear long pants and long sleeves to protect against mosquito bites 

  • Drain standing water around the house at least weekly. Change birdbath water weekly, more often in very hot weather. Receptacles such as buckets, clogged rain gutters, and rain barrels are very attractive spots for a mosquito to lay its eggs. 

  • Stay clear of places where mosquitoes are known to be found (tall grasses, wetlands, shrubs and grassy shores). 

  • Repair all house screens and screen doors now. A blood-seeking mosquito needs only a fraction of an inch gap to enter your home. 

  • Trim your bushes up to approximately 2 feet from the ground so you can “see the knees of the trees.” This allows air flow and reduces dampness, thus making your bushes a poor hiding place for mosquitoes. 

  • Plant low-water-use lawns and gardens now while mosquito populations are low. 

“There is no way we can predict how serious of a West Nile season we will have,” LeBailly said. “2003 was our worst season, but 2006 was more severe than 2004 or 2005. The measure of severity will unfold as the summer unfolds. “But what’s most important at this point is protecting yourself and your family from begin infected, starting now.”

For more information on West Nile Virus, call the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment at 498-6700 or visit the sites below: 

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Gas prices in Estes Park on Tuesday afternoon...

Gas prices in Estes Park on Tuesday

Wednesday,  May 23rd - Profit Margins Skyrocket...

Oil monopolies' profit margins continue to skyrocket as the price gouging and rape of consumers at the gas pump increases to ridiculous levels across the area.

With some parts of the state now reporting prices above the $4.00 a gallon mark, consumers are being forced to decide between fuel and food as the oil monopolies stuff their bank accounts with money.

With no oversight, regulation or competition to hinder them, the oil monopolies have again manipulated oil supplies to create a false shortage in attempts to justify the price gouging of American consumers. This is a yearly ploy by the oil monopolies to milk as much money as possible out of the working class economy. The greed based manipulation of oil supplies has been very successful to date with oil monopolies reporting record profits quarter after quarter, year after year.

Many consumers are now fighting back in various ways such as car-pooling, consolidating trips and canceling vacation travel plans. Congress, as usual, is doing nothing to stop this abusive fraud upon Americans.

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Prairie Falcon (Falco mexicanus)...

Prairie Falcon (Falco mexicanus)

Sunday,  May 20th - Photo Of The Week...

This week's photo, taken by Donald Spangler in a field near Estes Park Lumber on Monday afternoon, features a Prairie Falcon standing over a fresh kill.

The Prairie Falcon (Falco mexicanus) is a medium-sized falcon of western North America. It breeds from southern Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta & south-central British Columbia south through the western United States—roughly between the eastern edge of the Mountain Time Zone and the Cascade Mountains, as well as the Central Valley of California—to the Mexican states of Baja California, Durango, and northern San Luis Potosí. It is much less migratory than the other North American falcons, but in winter it does withdraw somewhat from the northernmost and highest-elevation parts of its breeding range and spreads west to the deserts and Pacific coast of California, east to about the 100th meridian, and south to Baja California Sur, Jalisco, and Hidalgo.

Prairie Falcon plumage is warm gray-brown (sometimes called "sandy") above and pale with more or less dark mottling below. The darkest part of the upper side is the primary wing feathers; the lightest is the rump and tail, particularly the outer tail feathers. The head has a mustache mark like a Peregrine's but narrower, and a white line over the eye. A conspicuous mark is that the wingpits and underwing coverts are black, except along the leading edge of the wing. This creates an effect of "struts" from the body along each wing. Juveniles resemble adults except that they have dark streaks on the breast and belly and darker, less grayish upperparts

The Prairie Falcon eats mostly small mammals (especially in summer) and birds caught in flight. Like the Merlin, it often hunts by flying fast and low, at a height of only a meter or so, hoping to find surprised prey as it comes over the terrain or around a bush. Its cruising speed is estimated at 45 mph and it accelerates in the chase. It also pursues prey sighted from a perch, again often flying very low. It typically catches birds by pursuing them in level flight and grasping them, less often knocking them down in spectacular dives like the Peregrine.

Prairie Falcons are often used in falconry. Although it's considered hard to train and unpredictable, it's the most popular falcon in the United States, due to its abundance and relative ease to acquire. It is also valued for its aggressiveness. Observers of wild birds and veterinarians agree with falconers that it's one of the most aggressive raptors.

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