Published on 07/15/04

Recent rains created mosquito breeding grounds

By Faith Peppers
University of Georgia

Georgia landscapes were glad to get the recent rains, but the mosquitoes that may follow are not as welcome.

"Nuisance mosquito populations are probably about to increase in a significant way," said Elmer Gray, an extension entomologist with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. "The recent period of regular rains and overcast days has filled up everything that could possibly hold water and not allowed anything to evaporate."

Not major WMV carrier

Consequently, expect an explosion of Asian Tiger Mosquitoes (Aedes albopictus) in the near future. While the Tiger Mosquito is a biting pest, it's not generally dangerous.

"Fortunately, this species has not been significantly implicated in the West Nile Virus cycle here in Georgia," Gray said. "But it is one of our most common pests in the upstate area."

Small studies and observations in the Athens, Ga., area are showing increases in WNV carriers.

"We're conducting a small study monitoring Culex quinquefasciatus,the primary WNV vector in Georgia, populations and they appear to be increasing as well," Gray said. "This rise is more likely due to the time of the year than anything else."

Basically, this species is more of a summer species (as is albopictus) and seems to be becoming more prevalent in the heat of summer, he said.

Eliminate standing water

Gray's personal observations show that mosquitoes can breed just about anywhere.

"I seem to find new things holding water and larvae everyday," he said. "A large sheet of plastic that was covering some brush supported significant populations in virtually every depression that was holding water. And a wheelbarrow, same deal, pet bowls, same deal, even down to a cup of water on my daughter's watercolor easel in my garage."

Gray says the best way to avoid these growing populations in your yard is to walk around everyday and empty everything that's holding water, no matter how small the amount. And to protect yourself against the pests already out there, select an insect repellant containing DEET.

"You should also wear light-colored, long-sleeved shirts and pants in addition to using insect repellents," said Gray. "And always follow the directions on repellents closely."

Faith Peppers is the director of public affairs with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.