USA Today: Mosquitoes Swarm from Breeding Grounds Left by Hurricane Irene

September 20th, 2011

USA Today: Mosquitoes Swarm from Breeding Grounds Left by Hurricane Irene

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

States along the East Coast are dealing with a larger than usual number of mosquitoes from residual water from the late-August storm, according to Joe Conlon, technical adviser for the American Mosquito Control Association.

The aftermath of weather patterns such as Hurricane Irene provide pockets of water with ideal conditions for mosquito breeding grounds, Conlon said.

“The mosquitoes that are plaguing the Mid-Atlantic area right now are a result of the hurricanes and tropical storms that have recently passed through,” added Janet McAllister, an entomologist for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Conlon noted North Carolina’s Outer Banks, as well as areas of Virginia, Delaware, New Jersey and Massachusetts have been greatly affected by mosquitoes. Many affected areas have begun spraying insecticides to keep the mosquito population under control, Conlon added.

Homeowners can drain rain gutters, regularly change birdbaths and dispose of any containers that collect water to prevent mosquito breeding, Conlon and McAllister said.

“We advise (people) to use repellent when they’re outside, to make sure that the screens on their houses are in good repair and to not spend a lot of time outside at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are more active,” McAllister said.

The CDC suggests such repellents as DEET and Picaridin, and oil of lemon eucalyptus as a natural alternative.

Conlon said there are many mosquito-borne diseases – such as West Nile virus or Eastern equine encephalitis – that continue to be a concern.

According to the CDC’s arboviral activity update from Sept. 13, reports of West Nile virus are down this year, but there has been a recent spike because of storms. There have been 202 human cases of West Nile virus reported this year in 31 different states. Of those cases, 121 of them have been reported since Aug. 1. At this time last year, 381 West Nile cases had been reported.

Annie Bissett, a 56-year-old artist from Northampton, Mass., said there have been cases of Eastern equine encephalitis and West Nile in Massachusetts this summer and said it feels like the number of mosquitoes had “doubled or tripled since Irene came through.”

“I have a Labrador retriever who needs a walk every day, and my dog’s favorite place to walk is along a small river that flows through my town,” she said. “Even now, more than 2 weeks after Irene, the mosquitoes near the river are awful. You can feel them brushing against your skin as you walk. And they’re aggressive, as if they know their days are numbered with fall coming.”

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