Mosquito Populations Likely to Increase
Written By Michael Waldvogel Edited by M. Daughtry
Close to a year ago (June 13, 2018), I wrote “Raining in Mosquitoes” after we had torrential rains in many areas of the state. So, flash forward to this weekend’s rain and flash flooding is leaving many areas will standing water. Some of these such as my neighbor’s yard on Saturday afternoon will drain within a few days. However, other areas (particularly shaded poorly draining sites) may have stagnating water for weeks; long enough to become mosquito breeding grounds.
Rather than wait to spray for the blood-sucking adults or even toss products like Mosquito Dunks into pools of stagnant water, now is the time for people to get outdoors and see where these water-filled areas are located and try to eliminate them as best we can. Aside from pooled water in our yards, there are many other areas and objects that can serve as mosquito breeding sites. As I have mentioned previously, an unpublished study in the 1980s led by Dr. Charles Apperson (professor emeritus in NC State University’s Entomology & Plant Pathology Department) looked at where Asian tiger mosquitos were breeding in typical residential settings in New Hanover County. Here’s what they found:
|Containers used as breeding sites by Asian tiger mosquitoes|
|Source||No. Positive||Total Examined||Percent Positive|
|Plastic film (tarps)||8||11||72.7%|
This serves as a good reminder that we are frequently the cause of our own mosquito problems and that “Tip & Toss” are still our first line of defense against mosquitoes.
Historically, June is often the month where we see the first cases of eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) showing up in horses. In 2018, the first case was reported in July. Back in mid-April, N.C. Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services Commissioner Steve Troxler issued a reminder to horse owners to vaccinate their horses against this disease. At this point, it’s late in the game to expect a EEE vaccination to really help in the short-term. Talk to your veterinarian about what steps you should take now. On the human side, first cases of mosquito-borne disease such as EEE, LaCrosse Encephalitis and West Nile Virus often begin to appear in June-July. So, the message here is that if you spend time outdoors gardening (or removing those water and mosquito-filled objects), wear repellent. If you decide to treat your yard for mosquitoes, take time also to look on the other side of fence to make sure you’re not accidentally spraying your neighbor’s vegetable garden (most of the commonly used mosquito products are not labeled for use on edible plants), their beehive, or the pets or children.
Minda Daughtry is Horticulture Agent for North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Lee County.