Mosquito population swells after rain, heat wave - Houston weather, traffic, news | FOX 26 | MyFoxHouston

Mosquito population swells after rain, heat wave

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The heat wave that followed several downpours of rain is delivering a big batch of mosquitoes just in time for the peak season of mosquito-borne illnesses like West Nile Virus and La Crosse encephalitis in Minnesota.

As the summer wears on, those who monitor and treat against mosquitoes are focusing on disease prevention now that the state has seen its first confirmed case of West Nile.

"Monday nights are our sampling nights, so we'll be setting about 134 of these traps," said Sandy Brogren, of the Metropolitan Mosquito Control District.

In the business of counting mosquitoes, business has been good lately. Overall, the agency has seen twice the number of mosquitoes documented in an average year.

"We can get anywhere from one or two mosquitoes up to tens of thousands of mosquitoes in a trap during the night," Brogren told FOX 9 News.

Mike McLean says they try to get a weekly snapshot of the mosquito population to decide where to focus their efforts, but so far, more than 200,000 acres of mosquito-breeding habitat have been treated.

"It's a pretty good indication when you see trap counts of 13,000 mosquitoes overnight that the people in that area are really going to be noticing the mosquitoes," he said.

So far this season, the highest numbers have been found in the western and southern parts of the metro area, but the folks at MMCD say the sheer volume of mosquitoes isn't the only thing they care about -- it's also the kind of mosquitoes that are cropping up.

"The kind of mosquitoes that develop in the kind of junk we leave laying around tend to be the sorts of mosquitoes that can spread disease," McLean warns.

In addition to eliminating any standing water, residents should keep using insect repellant even when the swarms don't seem so bad, but when it comes to DEET, more isn't always better. Experts say 30 percent is just as effective as 10 percent, but it does last longer.

For those who are uncomfortable using DEET, oil of lemon eucalyptus is a natural alternative.

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