Flooding and higher temperatures become perfect storm for mosquito breeding

Published: May. 9, 2022 at 6:06 PM CDT|Updated: May. 9, 2022 at 7:52 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Storms in early May brought large amounts of rainfall to the Ozarks, leading to flooding in some spots. And a lot of the standing water in low-lying areas remains.

Add to it warmer weather. It arrived with temperatures jumping into the 80s, which just so happens to be the ideal temperature for mosquito activity. Skeeters function best at 80 degrees, become lethargic at 60 degrees, and do not function below 50 degrees.

“There are two important components in the development of mosquitoes,” explained Claborn. “Standing water and temperature. So in our current situation with a lot of standing water because of the flooding and the higher temperatures this week, the water will warm up and cause the eggs to hatch. So yes, I do expect we will see a nice crop of mosquitoes in the next week or so.”

“The bad news is we are likely to see more mosquitoes due to the wet weather and the warm temperatures,” Barbe added. “The good news is most of those do not carry illness. There’s only one breed of mosquito in Missouri that carries the illness that we see here called West Nile Virus. Last year there were only 11 cases of severe West Nile disease in Missouri and only one death. Around 80 percent of people don’t even know they’ve been infected. About 20 percent have an illness that they recognize, much like a cold or flu. It’s body aches, fever, or a headache. But if the headache becomes more severe or if there are mental status changes, confusion, dizziness, and such, you should seek medical attention.”

As for treating a mosquito bite?

“If you experience itching, swelling, or redness, the best things are cool compresses and even a home remedy of baking soda mixed with a little water to make a paste that you can put on there to reduce those symptoms,” Barbe answered. “Unfortunately, treating the symptoms doesn’t have much of an effect on whether or not it progresses to an illness. But the vast majority of mosquito bites are not going to be infectious.”

And did you know that mosquito habitats influence their biting habits?

“You can divide mosquitoes into two groups,” Claborn pointed out. “One is a group that will emerge from artificial containers like flower pots, old tires, and things like that. Those mosquitoes will bite very readily during the day. But the good thing about them is they don’t go far from the artificial containers. The other group that emerges out of ditches and standing water tends to bite around the evenings. The best thing to do to avoid mosquito bites is to wear long-sleeve shirts and some kind of repellent.”

And one key thing to do is eliminate standing water that draws mosquitoes to your yard or home.

“The amount of water a mosquito needs to lay eggs and for the larvae to develop is small enough to fit within a bottle-cap from a plastic Coke bottle,” Claborn said. “So it’s really important to get out in your backyard and find these little things that are holding water. If you’ve got large fields, try to drain them. You can put in biological insecticides that are pretty easy on the environment. If it’s a recurring issue, put some type of plant in there that really sucks up water. In my backyard, I use Mammoth sunflowers to suck all the water out of the soil.”

Claborn also warned of another blood-sucking severe-biting pest that attacks humans, pets, livestock, and wildlife.

They are tiny flies known as biting midges.

“Those are things where you’re sitting out on your deck enjoying a glass of tea in the evening and feel these bites, but you don’t see anything,” Claborn said. “Those are probably biting midges. They usually come out of muddy areas and be biting about 30 minutes before sundown to 30 minutes after sundown. And the mosquitoes will be coming soon behind them.”

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