This is the time of year when we open our windows, work on our lawns and gardens, and get ready for the cookout. Just one slight problem: those little blood-sucking insects would like to enjoy the warm temperatures, too – while hanging out with you. It's bug season!
Weather has a big impact on mosquito populations. Rainy weather gives a boost to mosquitoes that rely on stagnant pools of water for their breeding grounds. These tiny insects aren't picky – they'll make of use standing water in abandoned bird baths, buckets, dog bowls or something less noticeable like the inside of a tire, the fold of a ground tarp, even an upturned bottle cap! And while it may seem counter intuitive, dry weather spells can boost mosquito populations, too.
Rainfall pushes water through storm drain systems and keeps streams flowing, but during dry spells, standing water sits in these systems and provides ideal breeding grounds. Creeks and streams that dry up during drought leave behind small, still puddles – perfect conditions for mosquito eggs.
Other insect populations, like ticks, aren't so affected by the weather. Ticks can survive long, cold winters, like the one experienced in some parts of the country this year, with the help of insulating snow and leaf litter. Rather than temperature or environmental factors, tick population size depends more on the availability of a blood host to feed on.
Viewer Tip: Tick and mosquito bites can be more than just annoyances – these insects can carry diseases like Lyme Disease and West Nile Virus. But you don't have to let pesky insects keep you inside or ruin your summer fun. These tips will help you enjoy summer bite-free.
- Proper clothing will help to avoid insect bites. Wear long-sleeves when possible. Tuck your shirt into your pants, and your pant legs into your socks or boots.
- Find an effective insect repellent. Use information about the type of insect you would like protection from and the length of time you'll be engaged in outdoor activity to determine which insect repellent to use. EPA has a toolthat can help you find the right product and recently released a new graphicfor skin-applied insect repellents that will make it easier to find this information on the product label.
- Make sure your door and window screens fit tightly. Repair or place any screens with holes.
- Eliminate standing water on your property. Empty buckets, flower pots, bird baths and other pools of standing water to eliminate mosquito breeding places.
Thanks to Mount Washington Observatoryfor providing some of this information.
(Sources: US Environmental Protection Agency, Insect Repellents: Use and Effectiveness, http://epa.gov/pesticides/insect/choose.htm; Contra Costa Mosquito & Vector Control District. "Why Drought Years Can Increase the Risk of Mosquito-Borne Illness." http://www.contracostamosquito.com/drought_article.htm; State of NH Department of Health and Human Services Division of Public Health Services, Preventing Diseases Spread by Mosquitoes, http://www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/cdcs/arboviral/documents/prevention.pdf)