Floodwater mosquitoes are back 7.23

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

We had such a great summer going. Whatever happened?

Heavy rain + hot weather = mosquitoes.

And we’re not talking about just any old mosquito. The 7.5 inches of rain in the first nine days of July brought a return of the floodwater mosquitoes—a particularly pesky variety that’s just as happy to do its work on a sunny, breezy day as its tamer cousins are at nightfall.

“We have a large population of floodwater mosquitoes on the wing right now,” said Dr. Ned Walker, a Michigan State University professor who studies mosquito biology and control.

Walker explained last September—when the species was vexing residents in this area—that they don’t actually lay their eggs in water. Instead, the female deposits eggs in areas that are likely to be flooded.

Eggs can remain dormant for years until the right combination of water and temperature occurs, then out they come—to feed and lay more eggs during their two-week life span.

If more heavy rains arrive, there could be a lot more of the floodwater mosquito around before cold weather arrives in the fall.

“That seems to be the pattern this summer,” Walker said. “We’re getting fairly regular heavy rainfalls.”

Now, with low ground so saturated, it doesn’t take much to flood, Walker noted, and the mosquito population could continue to increase.

If there’s a good side to the issue, it’s that the floodwater mosquitoes found in this area are just pests rather than disease carriers.

Actually, they can be carriers of West Nile virus, Walker said, they just aren’t good transmitters. Although the virus may be present in a mosquito’s body, it doesn’t readily spit it back out.

There are more important carriers of the virus, but the Ades trivittatus species—probably the small mosquitoes going after the face these days—are strong carriers of the dog heartworm larva.

Control

“It’s really a struggle to do community-based mosquito control,” Walker said. “It takes funding and organization.”

Many communities, such as Morenci and Fayette, have spraying programs in which units are pulled along streets to deliver an insecticide.

That method has limited effectiveness, he said, but it can work quite well if the weather conditions are just right. Very low wind and a thermal inversion in the evening are ideal, Walker said, but Mother Nature generally doesn’t provide the optimum conditions.

A more effective program would require spraying foliage around the borders of yards, but this requires a ground crew and more equipment.

Many communities have even cut back on the spraying routine, he said, due to financial hardship.

With the first frost probably two months away, hope for gentle rains instead of the heavy downpours. Otherwise, the floodwater mosquitoes and their aggressive, dive-bombing ways could be with us off and on for several weeks.

  • Front.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
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    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
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    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
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  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.

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