While mosquito populations exist within all US states, including Alaska, everyone knows that mosquitoes are particularly abundant in the southeast US. Most Americans may feel inclined to assume that the US city with the highest mosquito population must be located within the state of Florida. While this is certainly a sensible guess, a recent study found that Atlanta is the actual mosquito capital of the United States. Of course, this is not far off from Florida, as Georgia is located immediately north of the state, but many people, even Atlanta residents, were a bit surprised by this news.
Last year, the mosquito population in Georgia was particularly heavy due to frequent rainfall during the late summer season. According to Elmer Gray, a University of Georgia Cooperative Extension entomologist, mosquito populations are particularly high within the state due to the prevalence of standing water sources within residential areas of northern Georgia. Residents of urban and suburban areas of north Georgia may not be as vigilant as southern Georgians when it comes to removing standing water from their property. This may be due to the common assumption that mosquitoes are only a serious public health threat in the hotter southern region of the state near Florida.
Mosquitoes gravitate toward the closest sources of standing water in order to lay their eggs within a proper aquatic environment. For mosquitoes, the availability of standing water sources determines whether or not a mosquito population will continue to thrive in a particular location. This is why it is essential for homeowners to remove all sources of standing water from their property. The most common sources of standing water within people’s yards include clogged downspouts, the dishes that hold flower pots, watering cans that are left outside, childrens toys and other containers that are commonly found within people’s yards. Many of the mosquitoes that pester residents of Georgia are Asian tiger mosquitoes, but these mosquitoes are not carriers of disease, so they are not much of a concern to public health officials. However, this is not the case with the growing population of southern house mosquitoes in the state, as these mosquitoes can transmit both Zika and west Nile. Unfortunately, a study found that the amount of southern house mosquitoes carrying the west Nile virus in the state has jumped from 13 to 23 percent in just one year, and populations are particularly high in the north. Mosquito populations in the state would decrease dramatically if more residents were vigilant about removing standing water from their property.
Do you believe that more residents of Georgia will fall ill from mosquito-borne disease this coming summer?