Drought and mosquitoes

Make your irrigation system smarter with the help of rebates from Sacramento area water providers. (Photo courtesy of Hunter Industries)

As the weather warms, it’s time to think again about conserving water and controlling pests

The weather is getting warmer and the days longer, luring us back outside (mask or no mask).

According to the National Weather Service, Sacramento will hit the 80s every day for at least the next week. That seasonal change in temperatures also means it’s time to talk about two subjects: Drought and mosquitoes.

With an eye on water use, here’s a timely offer: A great rebate on a “smart” sprinkler controller.

Local residents can now save $150 (or more) on a Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller, thanks to an instant rebate program offered by the Regional Water Authority and Sacramento area water providers.

Representing 21 local water providers serving about 2 million customers, the RWA always is looking for ways to help consumers reduce water consumption. A smart controller such as the Rachio 3 can save an estimated 13,500 gallons of water per year for a typical Sacramento household.

How does it work? The controller acts like a thermostat for your sprinklers, using local weather conditions to adjust how long your sprinklers run, explains Amy Talbot, RWA water efficiency program manager. The controller automatically reduces sprinkler run times when the weather is cooler and increases them when the temperatures rise. You also can manage the controller from your smart phone with the Rachio app.

The Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller typically retails for about $230 for an eight-zone system and $280 for a 16-zone system, but both models are being offered at a reduced rate of $75 plus tax. (Installation is not included.)

This deal is available for a limited time on a first-come, first-served basis until funding is exhausted. Rebate details, eligibility requirements and a link to purchase the controller are available at BeWaterSmart.info. Check out other rebates available now, too.

Hear the buzz?

Our recent warm weather (after a little spring rain) brought out the mosquitoes – just in time for Mosquito and West Nile Virus Awareness Week.

The annual observance, scheduled for April 19-25, serves as a major educational campaign by the Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito and Vector Control District. Since health is on everyone’s mind these days, the emphasis this year is on the health risks associated with mosquitoes.

They don’t spread COVID-19; that’s one good thing. But this notorious pest can transmit several debilitating and potentially deadly diseases, including West Nile Virus, which has become a seasonal threat in California.

Is your backyard (or a neighbor’s yard) a breeding ground for mosquitoes? One neglected swimming pool can produce millions of mosquitoes.
(Photo courtesy of Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito and Vector Control District)

“Also of concern is that last year, the invasive mosquito Aedes aegypti was detected in different areas of Citrus Heights within Sacramento County,” says the district. “Invasive mosquitoes pose a significant health threat because they are capable of transmitting dangerous viruses including Zika, dengue fever and chikungunya.”

We’re heading into prime mosquito season. They love afternoons in the 80s.

“As temperatures warm up, conditions will be perfect for mosquitoes to thrive,” said district manager Gary Goodman.

While staying at home, inspect your garden for potential mosquito breeding grounds.

“We are all spending most of our time at home, so remember to drain any water from flowerpots, bird baths, tires, dog dishes and other small sources where water can accumulate and breed mosquitoes,” Goodman said. “Reducing mosquitoes now will go a long way later in the season.”

Details and more mosquito-fighting tips: fightthebite.net.

Debbie Arrington, an award-winning garden writer and lifelong gardener, is co-creator of the Sacramento Digs Gardening blog and website.

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