By CINDY TOOPES
Courier staff writer
---- — OTTUMWA — Standing outside in your yard while you try to talk to the neighbors is a tough assignment because the bugs swarm along with you.
Gene Rathje, the city's parks director, said Tuesday that he hasn't seen many mosquitoes, but he's "sure they're on the way.
"I have noticed more swarms of gnats this spring, but the levels do vary each year," Rathje said. "I've checked newspapers in other cities, and they're having the same experience."
Rathje also said the city health department uses larvacide to deal with the insect problem. Rainfall has been plentiful all over southeast Iowa this spring, and that may play a part in the insect population."The insect levels vary every year, and there's nothing we can do about it," Rathje said.
Phil Northup is the city's housing and code enforcement inspector.
"Most folks in town realize we don't do anything in regards to ticks or gnats," he said. "But, when mosquito larvae are in the public water that's standing, then some of parks get the larvicide treatment."
The city doesn't spray for adult mosquitoes, ticks or gnats, Northup added. He also said he's outdoors a lot and is a "walker of the timber." But, this year's walks have been a "frightful thing."
"We haven't had the kind of weather that gets you to go to the timber," he said. "The ticks and gnats almost carry you away. I'm sure people would want the city to do more, but that's all we do right now."