Rain, warm weather rouse mosquitoes

02/14/2014 7:56 PM

02/15/2014 9:52 AM

After spending last weekend dodging raindrops, Sacramento-area residents headed outdoors this week and found themselves slapping mosquitoes.

Rain followed by relatively warm temperatures roused mosquitoes from hibernation, and they are out looking for their fist blood meal, said Luz Maria Rodriguez, spokeswoman for the Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito & Vector Control District.

Rodriguez said the district has been fielding calls from residents throughout the region reporting an increase in mosquitoes. Most of the calls have come from Sacramento County, but within the county, she said, mosquito activity appears to be widespread, including Natomas, Rancho Cordova and Citrus Heights.

“People are calling to say they are bothered by mosquitoes and they want to know why they are seeing them now,” Rodriguez said.

Several people engaged in early evening activities Friday at Sacramento’s McKinley Park said they were surprised to find themselves contending with mosquitoes so early in the year.

“It’s pretty ridiculous,” said Mike Artica, who was preparing to play tennis with friend Julius Liguid. “Right after the rain there was a mosquito explosion.”

Artica counted eight mosquito bites on his legs.

“There’s one feasting on my thigh now,” said Liguid, who said he had passed around a can of mosquito repellent the previous evening.

Mosquito activity is not unusual this time of year, when rains often are followed by a period of warmer temperatures. But as people take advantage of the mild weather to spend time outdoors, they are more likely to notice mosquitoes, Rodriguez said.

Some callers are reporting neglected properties and swimming pools in their neighborhoods, and some are requesting mosquito fish for their ponds and pools.

Rodriguez said the district does not spray for mosquitoes this time of year, explaining that spraying typically is undertaken when West Nile virus has been detected.

“For West Nile virus, we need consistent warm temperatures,” she said.

More rain or cold weather should result in a decline in mosquito activity.

In the meantime, residents are urged to “drain after the rain,” emptying water from buckets, cans, flower pots and areas in backyards where mosquitoes may breed.

Given current drought conditions, people may be inclined to collect rainwater. Those who choose to do so are advised to cover containers with mesh or lids, and make sure they are tightly sealed.

Although it is early in the year, officials urge people to protect themselves against mosquitoes and diseases such as West Nile virus. In 2013, 372 human cases of West Nile virus were reported in California, including 14 deaths. In addition, officials report, two new invasive mosquito species, the Asian tiger mosquito and the yellow fever mosquito, were found in areas in the state and could pose a public health threat.

To prevent mosquitoes, district officials recommend that residents:

• Drain standing water that may produce mosquitoes.
• Avoid being outdoors at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active.
• Dress appropriately by wearing long sleeves and pants when outside.
• Use an effective insect repellent, and make sure to follow label directions.
• Make sure door and window screens are in good working condition.

For more information or help in handling mosquito problems, call the district at (800) 429-1022, or go to www.FIGHTtheBITE.net.

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