Saturday, July 20, 2024

Mosquito populations down, biting species up

VIRGINIA BEACH — A wet spring is providing lots of breeding spots for mosquitoes and many residents here are paying the price — in blood.

“The rise in populations of some species — Coquillettidia perturbans and Psorophora ferox — has caused some irritation for the residents and mosquito complaints are increasing,” said Phil Meekins Jr., superintendent of the Mosquito Control Bureau for the city. “Both of these mosquitoes are vicious biters and can occur in great numbers.”

Despite the rise in those two species and the favorable weather conditions, overall Meekins said mosquito numbers appear to be down.

For now.

Trapping has been going on for a month. The first two weeks the number of mosquitoes taken was 96 percent lower than the same two weeks last year. The third week total was still 52 percent lower than last year’s.

This week, mosquito samples will be sent to the lab for testing, to see if any are carrying diseases such as the West Nile virus.

“We are receiving requests from citizens to spray neighborhoods and also receiving requests for the once-a-year yard treatment we offer,” Meekins said.

He said requests are coming evenly from various locations across the city, and that as usual they are coinciding with high school graduation and outdoor graduation parties.

They’ve been larviciding for about a month to control mosquito larvae and have covered most of the routes at least once. However, he said many new breeding sites have been created by all of the recent rain.

While most of the mosquito species found in the city take a week to 10 days to go from egg to adult, the Psorophora ferox takes just four days. That makes it impossible for crews to get to the standing water breeding sites in time to treat them and stop the development from larvae to hungry adult. Not only is this species a vicious biter, but they’re also strong fliers with a longer than typical flight range. This allows them to feed over greater distances.

Meekins said mosquito control crews are also spraying in an effort to impact adult mosquitoes.

Areas that have already received treatments include Pungo, Blackwater, the Sandbridge area, West Neck area, South Seaboard Road, and the neighborhoods of Rosemont Forest, Oceana, Seatack, and the area around Redwing.

Whether it gets better or worse remains to be seen.

“This is just the very beginning of the season,” Meekins said.

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