Wet weather made for mosquitoes

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BELOIT - You are likely to get more mosquito bites this year.

Thanks to humid weather and heavy spring rains, the population of the aggressive floodwater mosquito is up, according to health officials and those who work to eradicate them.

"Floodwater mosquitoes are aggressive biters and they like humans," said Laura McGowan, spokesperson for Clarke, the company Roscoe, Illinois contracted with to do mosquito spraying. "So much rain since the beginning of summer and high heat is the perfect recipe for mosquitoes."

Aedes vexans, the inland floodwater mosquito, lay their eggs on damp soil and emerge in large broods following heavy rain, according to a press release from the village of Roscoe.

Once adults, floodwater mosquito populations can become so great that natural controls, such as predators and parasites, are overwhelmed. Inland floodwater mosquitoes may fly more than 10 miles from their larval development sites in search of blood meals. In Illinois, they may bite more people than any other species, according to the Illinois Department of Health website at http://www.idph.state.il.us/

In an interview Tuesday afternoon, McGowan said Clarke was to be spraying the entire municipality of Roscoe at dusk, as mosquitoes are most active between dusk and dawn.

McGowan said Clarke trucks go up and down residential streets dispensing a fine mist of spray. The mist contains an extremely small amount of an active ingredient that interacts with a mosquito's biology. For example, McGowan said a tablespoon of the active ingredient would treat a space the size of a football field.

In the case of Roscoe, McGowan said the entire municipality will be sprayed.

All insecticides used have been approved for use and are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency, the village press release stated.

McGowan said Clarke also does spraying for Machesney Park and Loves Park, which bodes well for Winnebago County.

"It works well for everyone. Mosquitos aren't concerned with city barriers," Clarke said.

Although floodwater mosquitoes are aggressive biters, West Nile virus is transmitted primarily by the culex mosquito which prefers drier and hotter climates. This year the culex mosquito population is down due to the wet weather.

The current risk level for West Nile virus for Winnebago County is 1, or "low." Although weather conditions are favorable for the emergence of the culex species of mosquito, no mosquitoes infected with West Nile virus have been detected in Winnebago County this year, according to the Winnebago County Health Department at http://www.wchd.org.

Rock County Public Health Environmental Health Director Rich Wietersen said there are more floodwater mosquitoes in Rock County this year due to heavy rains, along with less culex mosquitoes which may carry West Nile virus.

"West Nile virus is down this year because of less culex mosquitoes. Last week was the first case detection of West Nile virus in Milwaukee County," Wietersen said.

Wietersen suspects more culex mosquitoes will be on the way if there is warmer and drier weather.

The Rock County Health Department tracks West Nile virus through the reporting of dead birds, specifically crows and blue jays. If anyone finds those birds and they are in good condition they can call the hotline 800-433-1610 for the bird to be tested.

Wietersen said surveillance is important.

"For the past several years we've had positive cases of West Nile virus in the avian community in Rock County. Last year Rock County had one human case of West Nile virus that was confirmed," he said.

Wietersen encourages people to use insect repellents and avoid being outside during dusk and dawn. One of the best ways to ward of culex mosquitoes is to remove any stagnant water from one's property.

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