While cold weather delayed this year’s mosquito outbreak, the pesky vampires are out with a vengeance now due to mid-April showers.
In fact, the mosquito swarms were so bad in some parts of St. Charles Parish that areas bordering the marsh or woodlands were sprayed by pesticide from a low-flying plane last week.
Steve Pavlovich, an entomologist with Mosquito Control, said whether or not mosquitoes will continue to swarm in large numbers depends on the cycle of rainfall.
“If it dries out and we have a heavy rain, that will hatch another brood of mosquitoes. Some years you have heavy rainfall, two weeks of drying and then two weeks of rainfall, which can build up the mosquito population,” Pavlovich said.
Pavlovich said that the mosquitoes out in abundance now are more aggressive biters but have little chance of transmitting diseases. Instead southern house mosquitoes are the main culprits of West Nile transmission, and their activity peaks in August, September and October.
“There is always a chance of transmission, so people should always be careful, but the mosquitoes out now are known more as pests because they are so aggressive,” Pavlovich said.
Southern house mosquitoes, which transmit more diseases, come from septic areas such as broken pipes, ditches or broken containers instead of the marsh or woods. The only good thing about southern house mosquitoes is that they are not very aggressive.
“The ones that come after rain in the marsh or woods are very aggressive, but these are docile in comparison,” he said.
Pavlovich added that while other viruses are being transmitted through mosquitoes in other parts of the country, those in Louisiana are mostly affected by West Nile.
“Some things that have been in other areas are Dengue, which is found in southern Texas and the Florida keys. Another one that is emerging is chikungunya, but those diseases haven’t made it here,” Pavlovich said. “It’s something potentially that could be coming down the road.”
Chikungunya causes joint pain in the extremities. Dengue virus, which is the leading cause of illness and death in the tropics and subtropics, can cause joint and eye pain and can lead to severe abdominal pain or persistent vomiting.
Pavlovich said that residents should be careful when going outside during peak mosquito times, beginning at dusk and lasting about two hours after. He suggested wearing repellent and keeping homes closed up by using screens and having doors and windows properly fitted.