The wet spring weather that’s vanquished Iowa’s drought brings a bumper crop of biting mosquitoes. They’re not only a bother for humans, they could spell a loss for Iowa’s hog farmers. Mike Brumm, a specialist with the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, says raised red welts can be a sign of mosquito bites, but also could be symptoms of some disease, so USDA inspectors have asked packing-house workers to trim that part off the carcas — reducing the price paid for the hog — or they’ll reject the hog completely. The abundance of mosquitoes this summer already is driving many folks indoors but Brumm can’t say whether it bothers livestock enough to cut into their health or weight gain. “I’ve never been able to ask a pig,” Brumm says, but they sometimes seem bothered when there are lots of bugs biting them. Brumm says keeping weeds and grass trimmed will help keep down mosquitoes, and some chemicals are approved for spraying around animals that will head for the human food supply. He says some products labeled for fly control on pigs are safe enough that they don’t have a requirement to withdraw them from use in the week before sending the animals to slaughter, and he says some also have a label claim that they’ll help control mosquitoes. Though they irritate neighbors and arouse some opposition, Brumm says the big animal farms with their million-gallon manure lagoons aren’t responsible for the flourishing mosquito population this year. While the lagoon is a big pond of water, he says it’s got too much organic material and an unfavorable pH level, so he says the manure storage ponds are not thought to be a breeding ground for insects.
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