WASHINGTON - Swatting more and lovin' the backyard and patio less these days? Does it seem there are more mosquitoes than usual?
"We're hearing that just about every district I contact is having worse problems with mosquitoes than before," says Joseph Conlon, an entomologist with the American Mosquito Control Association.
Conlon says he's getting complaints from all states along the east coast.
Mother nature has conspired to produce more mosquitoes this summer. First, we had the long stretch of rainy days, then the heat wave.
"To the extent that you have more habitat for them to lay their eggs in because of more water, you're going to have more mosquitoes," Conlon says.
At the University of Maryland, entomologist Mike Raupp says that mosquitoes hatch a lot faster in hot weather compared to cool weather. While it takes one type of mosquito, called a Culex, 27 days to go from egg to adult in 59 degree temperatures, the species can complete the cycle in just seven days when the temperature is 93 degrees.
Raupp, known as the Bug Guy, writes on his blog, "With ample rainfall and scorching temperatures over the past few weeks, mosquito populations are on the rise throughout our region."
Conlon, who spent 20 years as a Navy entomologist roaming jungles around the world to help U.S. Marines combat mosquitoes, says the best way to counter mosquitoes is by eliminating their breeding spots in your yard.
"Get rid of the water on your property, to the extent that you can," Conlon says.
Also, use insect repellant and dress properly in long-sleeve shirts and pants. To discourage Asian Tiger mosquitoes that bite all day long, "if you wear light- colored clothing, you're less likely to get bit," Conlon says.
Also, fans help.
"At my own house, I use floor fans in order to keep mosquitoes off me," Conlon says. "I just use the fan to blow across my body... if there's a reasonably stiff breeze, mosquitoes can't navigate through that."
Conlon adds that some counties and municipalities spray against mosquitoes, which he says "can, indeed, be quite effective because they cover large areas."
If you hire a commercial exterminator to zap your yard against mosquitoes, Conlon says you'll get some relief from the residual or barrier pesticide they spray on your shrubs and plants. But, much depends on weather conditions and surrounding property.
"A lot of rainfall can affect the effectiveness of that, high relative humidity can affect the effectiveness of that," he says.
And, mosquitoes can fly in from nearby untreated property.
"Mosquitoes, depending on the species have some very long flight ranges, several miles," Conlon says.
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