Keeping Mosquitoes Away During Summer Nights

For the past 14 years, the upper Great Plains has been the epicenter for West Nile virus in the United States.

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For the past 14 years, the upper Great Plains has been the epicenter for West Nile virus in the United States.

The Culex Tarsalis mosquito is one of 43 species of mosquitoes in South Dakota, and is the one that carries the West Nile virus.

Dr. Lon Kightlinger says that the West Nile virus has never left South Dakota since its arrival in 2002.

“We’ve had cases every year,” says Kightlinger, “some years are quite bad, some years are fairly mild, but it’s always been here.”

So, if the disease is never truly eradicated, why are some years worse than others?

Weather, geography and birds influence an outbreak.

The virus begins as bird disease; it’s when mosquitoes mature that they begin to feast on humans.

Denise Patton heads the mosquito control effort in Sioux Falls and says the decision to spray the city with mosquito killer is set by the centers for disease control. If more than 100 flood mosquitoes are caught in two days or 10 or more Culex, then the city will spray.

“A combination of Culex of any sort two nights in a row that’s too many because then risk is very high,” she says.

While mosquito activity does increase at night, not all mosquitoes are deadly. in fact some mosquitoes don’t even bite humans at all.

“Others bite very heavily like the ones that emerge after flooding event they are very aggressive biters,” Patton added, “but they don’t carry virus very well.”

She says that these mosquitos are the ones people think could transmit the virus, but that is very rarely true.

Regardless, if which ones can and cannot carry the virus, they do pester all of us; leaving us itchy and uncomfortable during late summer nights.

But there is hope.

“There is the city effort and that’s what the city does controlling mosquito numbers by spraying adult mosquitoes, or more importantly reducing the places where mosquitoes can grow, larvae,” says Dr. Kightlinger.

Also, always use repellant and wear long sleeve shirts and pants if you plan to be outdoors for a long time.

Those bug-zappers that kill mosquitoes by attracting them to it by light don’t put them by you.

By placing the killing machines near your deck or places to entertain guests, you are asking them to swarm around you.

Instead, place the fixtures in backyards or near trees. It will draw them to there, rather than draw them in, near you.


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