Weather pattern extending mosquito season

Heather Regan White / The American Press

<p class="indent">Though mosquito season in Louisiana typically runs through October or November, increasingly warmer winters are enticing the pesky critters to overstay their welcome.</p><p class="indent">“The weather pattern we are currently experiencing — warm weather, high humidity, rainfall — is conducive to high numbers of mosquitoes and will therefore extend the breeding season,” Jill Hightower, lab specialist with Calcasieu Parish Mosquito Control, said.</p><p class="indent">Keeping the mosquito population under control requires 14 trucks, she said.</p><p class="indent">“We concentrate our treatments in areas of the parish where we have confirmed mosquito-borne virus activity and also areas with the highest mosquito populations,” Hightower said.</p><p class="indent">“We do make an effort to treat all areas regularly, although not on a set schedule as to not create resistance in mosquito populations,” he said.</p><p class="indent">She said there have been no cases of Zika virus reported in Calcasieu Parish or the state this year.</p><p class="indent">Though mosquitoes never completely disappear in Southwest Louisiana, Hightower said their numbers decrease in really cold or really dry weather. She said most adult mosquitoes become less active when temperatures drop below 50 degrees.</p><p class="indent">Some species of mosquitoes even overwinter in the egg or larval stage.</p><p class="indent">“There is a species of mosquito that is active in cold temperatures called the ‘Winter mosquito,’ although it usually doesn’t bite humans that much,” she said.</p><p class="indent">There are about 20 different breeds of mosquito regularly found in Calcasieu Parish. Hightower said there hasn’t been a new species in the area since the Asian Tiger Mosquito was introduced into the Houston area after hitching an overseas ride in a shipment of tires.</p><p class="indent">But, she said, with the ease of travel the introduction of a new species remains probable. Mosquito Control does rotate the insecticide they use to prevent resistance in local populations.</p><p class="indent">Hightower said only female mosquitoes bite. The males don’t have the mouth parts needed to extract blood. They dine on nectar. She said the females need the blood for egg development and are capable of producing as many as 300 eggs after just one blood meal.</p><p class="indent">Hightower offers the following tips to keep the bugs at bay around residences:</p><p class="indent">l Mosquitoes, like all insects are attracted to light. Hightower recommends turning off porch lights or using motion sensor lights so they won’t hang out around doorways.</p><p class="indent">l High grass offers mosquitoes a place to rest. Keeping the grass cut helps keep them away.</p><p class="indent">l If there is standing water that can’t be drained, like under a house, you can treat the water with larvicide. “One we recommend is Mosquito Dunks,” Hightower said. “They come in a package of six and can be purchased at Walmart, Lowes or Home Depot in the garden center.”</p><p class="indent">l Treating your yard can prevent adult mosquitoes from biting. Hightower recommends a Permethrin product that can be dispensed in a pump sprayer or fogger. Cutter Backyard is an easy-to-use spray concentrate that can be attached to a garden hose.</p><hr /><p class="indent"> </p><p class="indent"><em>For more information, visit the Centers for Disease Control Website at <a href="" target="_blank"><span class="text_link link_wrap type_url" data-link-type="URL" data-link-target=""></span><span class="text_link link_wrap type_url" data-link-type="URL" data-link-target="">controllingmosquitoes-at-home</span></a>.</em></p>””