Twin Falls County’s brand-new pest abatement district aggressively assaulted black flies and mosquitoes this year and is taking steps to do an even better job next year, representatives told county commissioners on Friday morning.

The visit, during which the district delivered its annual report, gave the commissioners a chance to ask questions about the abatement work they launched themselves with an emergency district two years ago.

Voters in 2008 approved the creation of a formal, better-financed district, complete with an annual budget of $442,000 and a public board of directors. For now, it focuses mainly on just the two insects: Mosquitoes can carry disease and pester humans, breeding in standing water, while black flies prefer moving water and are mainly a threat to livestock operations.

Having spent much of the year running across the county, District Manager Kirk Tubbs said he’s now analyzing “piles of data” gathered during his prevention efforts. Mapping software will help refine his strategy next year, he said, while crunching all of the numbers will create usable information for others to coordinate off of.

According to the annual report, that data say about 42 percent of mosquitoes caught in traps were of species most likely to carry West Nile virus. But only three traps tested positive for West Nile this year, he said, and after extensive treatment in their areas, future tests didn’t detect the disease.

The district attributes much of its success so far to its strategy of targeting larvae before they can become adults. Board President John Snelling said districts in other areas of Idaho focus much more on fogging for adult insects.

“It’s an option. It’s something in our arsenal,” Snelling said of fogging. “But I think we’re taking the right approach.”

Officials discussed a few different issues, including possibly bringing in a University of Idaho graduate student to answer a few questions about the bugs’ behavior and the adequacy of the district’s current building — temperature control and dust are both issues, but overall the leased space isn’t bad, Snelling said. Tubbs said the district wants to expand its educational work, which has included booths at various community events and presentations to local schools.

Commissioners seemed pleased with what they heard.

“I think you guys are doing an excellent job, personally,” said Commission Chairman George Urie. “I’m impressed.”

Nate Poppino may be reached at 208-735-3237 or npoppino@magicvalley.com.

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