Though mosquitoes are far less active in the winter than they are during the rest of the year, the unseasonably warm weather now could provide a big boost to the mosquito population late next month.
Mosquitoes function best at temperatures of 80 degrees and above, which is why they tend to be most active during midsummer. When the temperature drops to 60 degrees, mosquitoes become lethargic and less likely to bite. At temperatures below 50 degrees, mosquitoes are unable to function. At this point, they either enter hibernation or die.
But in January, temperatures in southeast Louisiana averaged nearly 60 degrees.
According to Steve Pavlovich, with Mosquito Control Services, the mild weather means that more mosquito eggs are lying around in moist areas and woodlands. When the spring rains come, more of those eggs will hatch unless the weather gets much colder between now and March 20.
"A mild winter means that a lot more viable eggs are lying around, which means there is a larger percentage of eggs that will hatch," he said. "The eggs that are sitting there now are exposed to the elements, so if we have a week of near freezing temperatures, some of them will perish.
"If not, there is a higher percentage of the eggs that will hatch when the spring rains come."
While Pavlovich said there arenít many adult mosquitoes flying around now, there are plenty of larval mosquitoes in parish ditches and catch basins. They are also being found in woodland areas that experienced flooding recently.
Though truck spraying is not as common during the winter as it is during the spring and summer, Pavlovich said that Mosquito Control workers are out almost every day of the week monitoring and controlling the mosquito population.
Inspection teams locate, map and categorize major mosquito breeding sites, as well as record the various species of mosquitoes present. The company gathers rainfall information and monitors adult mosquito activity.
The latest trapping devices are also used to collect, catalog and monitor mosquitoes at various locations throughout an area.
Of course, workers are also larvaciding in woods and ditches using non-chemical means such as fish that feed on mosquito larvae or by using a biochemical spray.