Wet weather brings mosquitoes by the swarm
Mosquitoes are hatching en mass across the area after the recurring wet weather in recent months.
“It’s just insane, the number we’ve had,” said Cory Berglin, owner of Mosquito Squad of Northwest Minnesota. “There have been so many mosquito hatches… with such large amounts of rain this year.”
Anywhere from 2 to 3 million mosquitoes buzz into the world with each hatch – and they don’t need much to make that happen.
“More than 300 mosquito larvae can come out of a bottle cap of (standing) water,” said Berglin.
Piles of wet grass clippings or leaves can also be breeding grounds for the pesky insects.
While there isn’t much that can be done about the weather that has allowed for the population boom, Berglin said there are five simple tips homeowners can follow to make their yards less enticing for the bloodsuckers.
-Tip over yard items after a rain to reduce standing water.
-Toss grass clippings, leaves and mulch piles. Trimmed grass also provides less habitat for adult mosquitoes, which need moisture and shady places to survive.
-Turn over items that might hold water, such as buckets.
-Tighten loose tarps over firewood piles and grills, also to prevent standing water.
-Finally, treat yard spaces with a barrier spray to kill existing pests and prevent their return.
Bites that itch for days are not the only reason to take action against mosquitoes. They are also vectors, or spreaders, of diseases such as West Nile Virus and Encephalitis, La Crosse Encephalitis, Jamestown Canyon Virus and Western Equine Encephalitis.
According to the Minnesota Department of Health, 79 people in the state were infected with West Nile Virus in 2013. Three of the infected died. There were four confirmed cases in Otter Tail County, one in Becker County and two in Wadena County.
West Nile was first reported in North America in 1999 during an outbreak in New York City. The disease was first found in Minnesota in July of 2002.
Symptoms of West Nile Virus are generally mild and flu-like, such as: a sudden fever greater than 102 degrees, severe headache, nausea, joint pain, weakness and fatigue. Some people who are infected might not show symptoms, according to the department.
However, that does not mean West Nile should not be taken seriously.
“A small percentage of people, especially elderly patients, may develop encephalitis (inflammation of the brain),” warned the department.
Signs of West Nile Encephalitis include mental status changes, vomiting, sensitivity to light and altered reflexes.
About 10 percent of those who progress to encephalitis infection may die. Fifteen percent go into a coma.
Department-recommended protection measures include using mosquito repellent products, avoiding outdoor exposure during peak feeding times (dawn and dusk) and wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants. Removing or reducing standing water can also reduce the number of mosquitoes in an area.