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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Mosquitoes thriving after a wet spring

Mosquitoes are thick this year due to the heavy rain in April and May.

Posted on May. 24, 2013 at 1:00 a.m. | Updated on May. 24, 2013 at 4:20 p.m.

ELKHART — If you think there’s more mosquitoes out than usual, you’re right.

Jon Weaver, co-owner of Martin’s Pet and Garden Center in Elkhart, said his phone has been ringing off the hook with calls from people looking for “any help they can get” with mosquitoes.

“The mosquitoes just all of a sudden came out a couple weeks ago,” said Weaver. “We started getting a lot of calls. I verified it by going out into my backyard and I was slapping right away.”

Weaver said his shop sells mosquito repellent both for individual use and for bug control in large yard areas. He also carries products to protect pets.

“There’s not one thing that takes care of mosquitoes 100 percent,” said Weaver. “The key is to wear light clothing and use repellents, and put screens up anywhere you don’t want mosquitoes.”

“If you think about last year, it was hot and dry, so we didn’t have too many mosquitoes,” continued Weaver. “We haven’t seen mosquitoes in a while.”

Elkhart County officials said Thursday, May 23, that mosquitoes are rampant in the area, partly because of the wet weather conditions.

“So far it’s been a good year for mosquitoes,” said Gabe Cameron, environmental health supervisor at the Elkhart County Health Department. “We are off to a good start because of all the moisture we had in the spring. We had a lot of snow that melted, then we had a lot of rain.”

Jeff Burbrink, extension educator at the Elkhart County Purdue Extension Office, said that most mosquitoes out now are “nuisance mosquitoes.”

“They will just drive you crazy and make you itch,” said Burbrink. “Vector mosquitoes are the ones that spread disease.”

Burbrink added that the best way to combat mosquitoes is to get rid of any standing water.

“If you have containers of water outside, you are creating your own problem,” said Burbrink. “You’ve got your own mosquito nest out there. Mosquitoes breed in water that has organic matter in it, and they can go from egg to adult in just a week.”

He noted that mosquitoes typically don’t live in active ponds. They frequent puddles and other stagnant water areas.

It’s important to choose a mosquito repellent spray that contains DEET, said Burbrink. But higher percentages of DEET — typically found in repellents marketed to hunters or campers — aren’t necessarily more effective.

“You want to stay with the repellents that have the lower percentage of DEET,” said Burbrink. “The stronger sprays can repel for longer, but if you just get into the habit of reapplying that’s probably safer for you.”

Burbrink recommended giving outdoor pets room to move around and get away from mosquitoes. He also said it’s best to use caution when spraying young children with repellent.

“Babies will put their hand and toes in their mouth, so don’t put (repellent) on their hands or feet,” said Burbrink. “A lot of people will just cover (babies) with a blanket.”

Relief from mosquitoes will likely come with the heat of summer, said Burbrink.

“Mosquitoes can’t stand 90-degree temperatures,” said Burbrink. “They will just dry up and die. They will stick around shady areas (on higher temperature days) so avoid those areas.”

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