Mosquito Superintendent Says There’s Been ‘Uptick’ in Population
The latest buzz on mosquitoes across the SouthCoast isn't necessarily good news, as the season has started off with an increased amount of the pests flying around the region.
"The season is upon us, despite the really cold weather," Priscilla Matton, Superintendent of the Bristol County Mosquito Control Project, told WBSM News. "We have been collecting mosquitoes the last couple of weeks, and this was also the first week submitted mosquitoes for testing to the Department of Public Health."
For the first time this year, the Bristol County Mosquito Control Project will conduct targeted ground spraying for mosquitoes in New Bedford, early this Thursday morning. It will target areas including Buttonwood Park, Brooklawn Park, Fort Taber, Hazelwood Park, Riverside Park, Clasky Park, Ashley Park, the Poor Farm area, and the downtown area.
"The weather has been very chilly or rainy the past couple of weeks, so we have been slow in our ability to make pesticide application for (adult mosquitoes)," Matton said. "We're hoping as the weather continues to improve, we'll be looking to do those types of adult control in areas like New Bedford, which has asked us to spray around the parks, and areas for residents as well."
Matton said the mosquito season has started off high.
"The spring rain certainly brought in a lot of mosquitoes, and those were the ones that have been bothering people in the beginning of May and now into June," she said. "Fortunately, we have not received as many complaints about mosquitoes, but that's just because of the temperature change. They're still out there, we're just not as exposed to them as often as we would normally be if the temperatures were higher. So we expect the population to rebound."
Matton said as to how the summer will go, it will all depend on how much rain comes into the area throughout the rest of June and through July.
"More rain usually means more mosquitoes," she said.
The mosquito counts early on have been a cause for concern, as increased awareness of mosquito-preventing techniques and protections have generally led to a decline in the overall amount of mosquito-born illness in the region.
"I can't say whether the West Nile Virus has changed or not, but (Eastern Equine Encephalitis), certainly the mosquito species that gets the cycle going for us in the spring for EEE, those populations have been significantly down the last five years," Matton said. "This is the first year we're seeing an uptick in mosquitoes, so that's certainly something to watch, especially since EEE can be much more severe than West Nile Virus."
Matton recommends wearing mosquito repellent when going outside, but also said preventative steps can be taken to ensure you have less mosquitoes buzzing around your yard.
"The majority of mosquitoes that are biting you in your yard are coming from your yard, or your neighbor's yard," Matton said. "So dump any standing water, including birdbaths, gutters, buckets, kiddie pools that we don't dump out as often as we should. All of those areas are very important to help reduce the amount of mosquitoes probably right around your property. If you reduce those, you reduce the amount of mosquito bites you'll get right around your yard."