Even the name means trouble: Aedes vexans. As if putting up with the seemingly ceaseless, Seattle-type weather wasn’t enough, the soggy spring of 2013 likely will trigger a mosquito population explosion in coming weeks.
Drought conditions in 2012 left generations of summer floodwater mosquito eggs dormant in the dried mud, waiting for the water’s return to revive.
Only the cooler temperatures have held back the onslaught, La Crosse County vector control manager Dave Geske said. The water needs to be 70 to 80 degrees for ideal conditions.
But Geske expects the hoard soon will be unleashed, as it takes only seven to nine days from hatching for the adult insects to emerge.
This species of mosquito doesn’t usually transmit diseases such as La Crosse encephalitis or West Nile virus.
But it’s aggressive, willing to travel 20 miles to find a meal, Geske said. And unlike some varieties that prefer birds or other mammals, the floodwater mosquito definitely has a taste for humans.
His office will take steps to make a dent in the numbers, Geske said. But until conditions turn dry again, real control is impossible.
“You can just make things a little bit better,” he said.
He recommends people stock up on repellents with DEET, which have been shown to be safe and effective when used correctly.
The floodwater mosquito also can carry heartworm, so make sure pets have been treated, Geske said.
Though this species usually doesn’t breed in small amounts of water, homeowners still should make sure they have no tires or containers outside the home that can become mosquito incubators, Geske said.
The “tree-hole” mosquitoes that bring the threat of encephalitis and West Nile usually come later in the summer. Even those not packing a dose of disease “can make your life pretty miserable,” Geske said.