OGDEN -- A warmer-than-usual spring has put Top of Utah mosquitoes two to three weeks ahead on their biting schedule, forcing Top of Utah residents to take precautions when outdoors.
The warm spring also allowed mosquitoes to hatch in larger-than-usual numbers of the species culex tarsalis and culex pipiens, which are natural transmitters of the West Nile virus, said Gary Hatch, Davis County mosquito abatement director.
"(The culex) need a lot of heat (to hatch), that is why they are running a little bit ahead of schedule," said Weber County Mosquito Abatement Director Bruce Bennett.
Abatement crews have found an unusually high number of mosquitoes breeding this past month in residential ornamental ponds and in horse troughs in rural residential areas, Hatch said.
That is why Top of Utah mosquito abatement officials are urging homeowners to drain any standing water that may have puddled in buckets, flower pots, tires or low-lying areas.
To combat the mosquitoes coming off the residential ornamental ponds, the districts continue to offer free mosquito-eating fish known as gambusia affinis, Bennett said. "They eat the larvae in the water."
Many residential ornamental ponds are listed with the district to be stocked with the fish each year, Bennett said. People with new ornamental ponds not yet on file are encouraged to contact the district at 801-392-1630 to receive the fish.
"We're jumping right into it," Bennett said of the Weber district's effort to combat this season's crop of mosquitoes.
The district sprays every night and early morning by vehicle, as well as spraying 2,500 acres by airplane on a biweekly basis, Bennett said.
The mosquito season along the Wasatch Front typically peaks by mid-August, he said.
To protect against West Nile virus, residents should use insect repellent with DEET from dawn until dusk when doing outdoor activities and wear protective clothing, such as long-sleeved shirts and long pants, according to a state Office of Epidemiology website.
People are also encouraged to use mosquito netting when sleeping outdoors or in an unscreened structure and to protect infants at all times.
West Nile virus is rare, but if someone has symptoms including high fever, severe headache and stiff neck, they should contact their health care provider immediately, health officials said.
Though anyone can be infected with West Nile and become ill, severe illness or death is more common in people who are older than 50, officials said.
For more information contact the local health department or visit health.utah.gov/wnv/.