Mild winter to bring early mosquitoes

Feb 10 2012 - 11:44pm

KAYSVILLE -- This year's mild winter could have mosquitoes putting the bite on Top of Utah residents a few weeks earlier than usual.

Mosquito season generally begins the first week of April, but it could come early this year, say district officials with Davis County and Weber County mosquito abatement.

"We could see some mosquitoes coming out of hibernation as early as mid-March," said Gary Hatch, director of Davis County Mosquito Abatement.

Mild winter temperatures along the Wasatch Front mean many species of adult mosquitoes will have survived the season, he said.

That changes the battle plan mosquito abatement officials will implement, but reduces only by "very little" the acreage district crews will need to treat, Hatch said.

"The areas we have to focus on are different," he said of mosquito abatement officials' response to a dry winter versus a wet winter.

Working in the district's favor is that the mild winter will reduce some of the areas where water pools, thus reducing mosquito breeding areas, he said.

But with dry conditions, Hatch anticipates more irrigation water will flow through farm fields.

"Each year is a little bit different," said Hatch, whose crews are already doing tree hole work and spraying for mosquitoes known to be carriers of the dog heartworm disease.

Weber County Mosquito Abatement Director Bruce Bennett said his workers are also expecting to see mosquitoes a few weeks earlier than normal. Those mosquitoes are commonly referred to as the "snow mosquito," which comes off the banks of the Weber and Ogden rivers.

That particular species, a single brood of mosquito that hatches once a year, is able to survive freezing temperatures and actually hatch from snowmelt, Bennett said.

In a mild winter, people can also expect a higher number of mosquitoes to breed and hatch because of the flood irrigation that farmers use to water their properties, he said.

"There is a floodwater mosquito."

Bennett said something residents can do now to prevent the hatching of mosquitoes on their property is to clean out the rain gutters on their house.

Fall leaves clog gutters, allowing small pools of water to form and creating an environment for mosquitoes to breed, he said.

Residents should also drain any standing water in flowerpots and tires that have been left out during the winter, Bennett said.

But if there is a late spring snow season, district officials say, battle plans for fighting mosquitoes could change again.

"So much depends on the temperatures in April and May," Hatch said. "Spring sets the trend."

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