Mosquito season is on its way, and it'll likely be worse than the past couple of years
A snowy winter means a wet spring. Here's what you can do to prepare.
The bouts of drought these last couple of years have caused trouble for mosquitos. But with an snowier than usual winter making way for a wet spring, they’ll be coming back with a vengeance.
So, how we can brace ourselves for an especially active mosquito season? Here are tips from Alex Carlson, public affairs manager at the Metropolitan Mosquito Control District.
Is this going to be a banner mosquito year?
We can't say for certain that it's going to be significantly higher than an average year. But we can say it's looking like it's going to be worse than it has the past two years when we've had drought, so not a lot of standing water around for mosquitoes to reproduce. So there just haven't been high mosquito numbers overall.
When will we start to see them?
Usually, we start finding larva in the water right around this time, but because there's so much snow cover — and we're also seeing those colder temperatures lasting a lot longer — we're predicting that the mosquitoes are going to come out later this year. When they usually started emerging in mid-May, they'll probably not come out until closer to the end of May.
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When will we have a better handle on how bad the season will be?
A lot of that's going to depend on the spring precipitation. We do have a lot of snow sitting around that's going to continue to melt slowly, but that mainly affects what we call the spring mosquito species or the snowmelt mosquitoes. And those aren't our most common.
Our most common are those summer floodwater mosquitoes, and they're really dependent on those summer rains and those late spring rains. Right now, the National Weather Service is predicting a wetter-than-normal normal spring. So if that holds true, then we're gonna see a lot of those floodwater mosquitoes out right in June and July — right when they tend to usually peak.
One prediction we can make with some accuracy is that there's a species of mosquito called the cattail mosquito that usually peaks right around the Fourth of July. And those are down significantly because of last year's drought. So we probably won't see that Fourth of July peak unless there's a significant rain fall right before the Fourth of July.
What’s the Metropolitan Mosquito Control District doing this time of year to get ready to control their emergence?
Right now, we're doing some basic inspections of the areas of wetland that we know tend to hold larvae. We're also looking for any manmade habitat that could produce mosquito larvae.
But the big thing right now is we're having a big hiring push. We need to make sure that we have the people who can respond to these heavy precipitations.
They're mostly just a nuisance in the summer, but some species are a more serious concern in Minnesota. Tell us about that.
The main mosquito-borne disease that we see is West Nile virus and we've seen cases of that every year since 2002, with the exception of 2020. So even if you're not getting bit a lot, it's still good to take precautions when you’re out during peak mosquito times in those evening hours, because there are mosquitoes in our state that can carry diseases. We want to make sure people are are being protected from that.
Any go-to spray recommendations or other ways for us to protect ourselves?
Most of the Environmental Protection Agency-approved mosquito repellents work great. DEET is kind of the go to — that's the most common and it's very safe.
Also natural products like picaridin or oil and lemon eucalyptus for people who are going into the deep woods. There's clothing and gear spray that you can get that contains permethrin.
And then the simplest thing you can do is just go through your yard and check to make sure your gutters aren’t clogged. Make sure that you don't have anything that's sitting out holding rainwater. Just eliminating any stagnant water is the best thing that you can do as a homeowner.