Mosquito season is here

Plenty of snow over the winter and ample spring rains has provided plenty of standing water for developing mosquito larvae.

MosquitoMSU Diagnostic Services and Michigan State University Extension have had calls about mosquitoes lately. As you have probably noticed, they are out in full force, and our recent warm evening temperatures have made them fully active. People have reported bloodthirsty clouds of mosquitos greeting them as soon as they walk outdoors. Expect them to be out in peak numbers for the next two to three weeks.

Michigan is blessed with over 50 species of mosquitoes. These can be categorized into two basic groups based on their breeding habits. The first group might be termed spring mosquitoes. Spring mosquitoes produce a single generation of adults each year. Their larvae develop in “spring pools” in low lying areas that hold water from snow melt and spring rains. Our wet spring has certainly enhanced the success rate of developing larvae by maintaining adequate water levels in these areas. They are having a banner year!

The other group of mosquitoes, called summer mosquitoes, will produced generation after generation of mosquitoes during the summer as long as there is standing water available. It is very likely that these species are going to benefit from our wet spring, too. And since The Weather Channel has yet to forecast any let up in the rain, it is also likely these mosquitoes will continue to benefit from our above normal rainfall. This, of course, will be at our expense.

Reducing mosquito bites still revolves around the use of repellents, loose-fitting clothing, tight-fitting window screens and yard sprays with malathion, permethrin or cyfluthin, and simply staying indoors during peak mosquito times. Propane-fired foggers or ULV (ultra-low volume) sprayers can also be used to kill the adult mosquitoes in yards. If they get much worse, I am going to seriously consider purchasing one of these: a ULV cold mist fogger!

There are several new products available on the market – some are quite expensive – that claim to rid yards of mosquitoes. While it’s true that these mosquito traps do catch mosquitoes, they appear not to catch all species of mosquitoes equally, and they may actually attract more mosquitoes to your yard than they catch, which cannot be viewed as good.

Photo credit: Jim Occi, BugPics, Bugwood.org