This winter’s near-historic snowfall was still known well into early July, and with all the thaw and subsequent dampness, it felt like mosquitoes were on the rise in Colorado’s Western Slopes/High Country. increase.
We don’t have exact data to back it up (yet), but it’s possible we’ll see more mosquitoes in Colorado this year.
“I haven’t heard of any reports of that happening, but given the humidity this year, it makes sense,” said entomologist Melissa Schreiner of the Colorado State University Extension in Grand Junction. “More cockroaches, more ticks, more stinging flies, and more mosquitoes, of course.”
Insect outbreaks have increased in areas of the western United States after heavy winter snowfall, said Daniel Murkowski, technical adviser to the American Mosquito Control Association. The snow cover later melts causing flooding and excess water, which determines the amount of mosquitoes that later emerge.
Colorado has had a lot of rain this spring, which combined with the temperature has contributed to the number of mosquitoes in the area.
Mosquitoes are most prevalent between May and September, Markowski said, but their activity depends on the weather. Pests begin to emerge when temperatures consistently exceed 50 degrees and prefer warm, humid climates.
Not all types of mosquitoes bite humans, only female mosquitoes that need blood to lay their eggs.
Colorado has about 45 species of mosquitoes and, as some people might think, mosquitoes can be found at almost any elevation. According to Schreiner, different mosquitoes are more active at certain altitudes and times of the year.
“They need water for their reproduction and reproductive cycles, so they thrive in areas where water is available,” Schreiner says. “We’ve had many years of rainfall, and this year has brought unusual humidity to Colorado, but it tends to create more standing water and stagnant pools that are attacked by those mosquito populations. These conditions are great for mosquitoes. It creates an ideal breeding ground.”
How to make your home less prone to mosquitoes
No one can control the weather, but they can influence the number of mosquitoes that hang out nearby.
The biggest step you can take to prevent mosquito breeding is to remove standing water. Female mosquitoes lay their eggs on or near stagnant water, leaving immature mosquitoes and larvae developing in the water, Markowski said. Larvae need leaves, dirt, grass clippings, or other decaying organic matter to develop. Preventing such an environment goes a long way in preventing mosquito outbreaks.
Dump or drain water wherever possible, including gutters, old tires, wheelbarrows, tarps, birdhouses, and other objects. Do it about once a week to disrupt the mosquito life cycle.
If there is water in an area that cannot be dumped, spray it with a larvicide. Products containing Bacillus Israeli (BTI) are environmentally friendly, Markowski said.
“BTI is made from bacteria that kill mosquito larvae,” says Markowski. “A small amount in the form of compressed doughnuts, briquettes, or granules is usually effective for up to 30 days. Just read the label and you’ll know exactly how and where to apply the product.”
Some companies are using hand-held sprayers and trucks to cover more ground and repel pests on a large scale.
Many truck-mounted or airborne mosquito spraying operations typically use adult agents to target adults.
“There are too many places for mosquitoes to breed,” says Markowski. “Thus, some adults will inevitably hatch, especially if the environmental conditions are favorable for reproduction.”
The standard is to use the Ultra Low Volume (ULV) method approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency.
“When applied according to label instructions and by a licensed vector control professional, truck spraying poses minimal risk to people, pets, animals, and the environment,” said the Centers for Disease Control..
Many communities, golf courses and parks in western Colorado are already spraying mosquito repellent to help control the spread of West Nile and other viruses.
Vector Diseases Control International Serving 12 states, including Colorado, we maintain a master schedule where residents can see how businesses and communities in their area have been spraying at VDCI.net/colorado-schedule ..
how to repel mosquitoes
After all, citronella candles don’t work. But there are some other natural ways to keep mosquitoes out of your space.
Insect repellents with DEET can be an effective way to keep buzzing insects away. Although this compound is approved by the Centers for Disease Control, it can cause side effects such as rashes in some people. DEET comes in various concentrations. Higher numbers mean longer lasting effects, but it is widely recommended not to use DEET in concentrations above 30%.
Picaridin is a similar, less irritating option, according to Markowski.
Permethrin is also an option, but not a repellent. This chemical is an insecticide and should only be used on clothing and other equipment.
A more natural alternative is lemon eucalyptus oil, which Markowski says can be an effective alternative to strong repellents. Other plant-based ingredients that may keep critters away include citronella, lavender, and peppermint, but they are less effective than synthetic versions and DEET.
Other options, such as traps, bracelets and bug zappers, are generally ineffective, Markowski said.
How to prevent mosquito bites
We’ve all heard the joke, “I need to eat sweets, there are so many mosquitoes!”
Believe it or not, there is a scientific basis for this.
“Mosquitoes, like most other blood-sucking insects, use the carbon dioxide we exhale as a long-range attractant to bring them closer to their hosts,” says Markowski. “But when they actually get close to their host, they use a variety of other cues to finally focus.”
According to CSU Extension, mosquitoes can smell carbon dioxide exhale from up to 75 feet away.
Wearing dark colors creates more contrast and allows mosquitoes to see you better. Mosquitoes also sense chemical cues when approaching a person or group of people.
“These chemical cues include bad breath, byproducts of the microbiome on the skin, or other common human odors such as octenol, ammonia, caproic acid and lactic acid,” Markowski said. rice field. “We are all different, and these different combinations are more or less attractive to different types of mosquitoes.”
Several studies have shown that blood type ‘O’ is the most attractive to human-biting mosquitoes, but there is no clear answer as to why.
You’ve been bitten. So?
Even after all efforts to prevent and repel mosquitoes, some mosquitoes still mature and pester people on balconies and patios.
Most people do not experience serious symptoms from mosquito bites, but there are serious dangers as well.
Mosquitoes are vectors and can transmit diseases from one species to another. Mosquito-borne diseases include West Nile virus, Zika virus, Chikungunya virus, dengue fever and malaria.
Colorado will be the state with the most cases in 2022, according to the CDC, with the West Nile being the biggest concern. Colorado has the second-highest number of confirmed cases in the U.S. since 1999, with 6,063, only California has recorded more cases. But about half of these cases all occurred in his 2003, just two years after the discovery of the West Nile in Colorado.
Since then, residents have gained some immunity, Jennifer House, associate state epidemiologist and state public health veterinarian for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environmental Affairs, told the Colorado Sun last year.
However, as the increase in the number of infected people in the last two years shows, there are still many people who need to acquire immunity. In 2022, Colorado will experience the most West Nile hospitalizations since 2003according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
The best way to prevent symptoms is to protect yourself using physical barriers such as clothing and nets, or chemically protect yourself with natural oils and repellents.
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