TUPELO – The rain has stopped, but the results of almost 10 inches of rain over 18 days are buzzing.
“Nuisance mosquitoes are going to be out,” said state Public Health Entomologist Jeffrey Brown.
Northeast Mississippians, soaked by rains for much of September, now have to confront the pests that follow. Aggressive floodwater species and the Asian Tiger mosquitoes love the wet conditions and are flourishing.
Fortunately, those aren’t the mosquitoes that carry the West Nile virus, Brown said. The Southern house mosquito that carries West Nile likes still, shallow fermented water for its eggs. And the rains would have washed out many of its favored spots.
But that doesn’t mean people don’t have to worry about the mosquito-borne disease that has killed three people, including a Lee County resident, and sickened at least 36 others so far this year.
“The danger still exists,” Brown said.
Though the rain waters have flushed away the Southern house mosquito larvae, the adult females are still around.
And as floodwaters begin to dry up, the stagnant water will be attractive for growing more of the Southern house mosquitoes that can carry West Nile virus, Brown said.
With the sunny, pleasant weather this week, people need to take preventive measures around their homes and businesses to keep more mosquitoes from growing.
“It’s so important that people pay attention to their property,” Brown said. “You want to eliminate any standing water … Empty everything around your home.”
But people will still need repellents like DEET and protection from long sleeves and pants to keep the adult mosquitoes at bay.
“With floodwater mosquitoes there is not much you can do besides personal protection,” said Jerome Goddard, Mississippi State University professor of medical and veterinary entomology.
Cities and counties may need to step up their public spraying programs because the heavy rains will be bumping up the mosquito populations.
“That will help with both” nuisance mosquitoes and disease-carrying mosquitoes, Goddard said.
The female Southern house mosquito is most likely to be out for a meal two hours before sunrise and two hours after sunset.
“You need to pay attention to the times and use personal protection,” Brown said.
Although the lower temperatures may slow mosquitoes down, the pleasant weather this week doesn’t knock them out. Temperatures have to stay below about 52 or 53 degrees to keep mosquitoes from flying, Brown said.
During the winter, when the days warm up into the upper 50s and 60s, mosquitoes can come back out for a bite.
“We have the possibility of West Nile virus transmission 12 months out of the year,” Brown said.
Michaela Gibson Morris/NEMS Daily Journal