Mosquito populations in Indy almost triple the average

News-Cov INIBrd 07-20-2015 Star 1.jpg

Here’s your reward for having endured this summer’s seemingly never-ending deluge of rain: mosquitoes.

Lots of them.

Mosquito populations are almost three times as high as what is normally experienced in Indianapolis this time of year.

Matt Sinsko, a Mosquito Control biologist for Marion County, said last week more than 6,600 mosquitoes were collected in 20 light trap monitors set up at various locations around the county. A typical collection would be about 2,300.

“As temperatures rise, it increases the speed that mosquitoes develop, which makes it harder for us to break that cycle,” Sinsko said. “We’ve collected a total of 34,669 mosquitoes this year so far. Normally we would only have about 16,300 by this time of year.”

And then he added this:

“We’re expecting it to get worse before it gets better. There is no relief on the horizon, because when you have days and days of rain, it keeps that breeding cycle going.”

The most prevalent species of mosquitoes at the moment is aedes vexans, which inhabit and breed in standing water. Sinsko said Mosquito Control collected 5,500 vexans last week alone. There also has been an influx of culex pipiens and restuans, which have the potential to carry the West Nile virus.

Joshua Bland, the service manager with Insight Pest Solutions, has definitely noticed a surge in calls for mosquito problems, especially near Fishers, where proximity to lakes is a particular issue. The still water is a perfect breeding ground for vexans.

But it’s not just mosquitoes.

“It’s been an abnormally wet summer, and for insects, water is life,” Bland said.

“We’ve seen a lot of mosquito activity, especially near areas with standing water, and there have been incidents of ants coming into people’s homes. The increase in insects means we’ve noticed more spider activity as well, because they tend to feed on these other pests.”

Indianapolis resident Martin Brennan, who has lived on the Far Eastside his whole life, could not remember seeing so many spiders, flies and mosquitoes during any summer in the past five years.

“The bugs this year are horrible. There’s not even a lot of standing water in my neighborhood, and they’re still rampant,” the 19-year-old said.

“I just finished cutting my grass, and I got bit at least six times in less than a half an hour. Keep in mind that it’s not the evening; this was before noon.

“Given most of the houses in my neighborhood are fairly old and apparently not well sealed off, bugs tend to be an issue. My yard requires a decent amount of upkeep, and these mosquitoes are making it quite a bit more difficult. Even prior to the recent rainfall, I felt this summer was an especially bad one for bugs.”

Aaron Lynch lives on the Northwest side and often golfs locally. The 16-year-old said the rain had caused a lot of standing water to build up all across the course, making it difficult to avoid mosquitoes.

“I’ve been bit up a bunch on the course, all up and down my arms and legs,” Lynch said. “It’s been really bad this month.”

Terry Gallagher, supervisor of Marion County Mosquito Control, advised residents to empty any containers around the house that can collect water. Bird baths need to be refreshed frequently. And gutters around the house should be cleaned out.

“Usually there are particular areas that are affected more so by mosquitoes in the summer,” Gallagher said, “but we’ve had so much rain this summer that the impact has been countywide.”

Update:

West Nile virus has been detected in mosquitoes in Marion County for the first time this season, but there have been no reports of human cases.

The mosquitoes that recently tested positive were collected in a Marion County Mosquito Control surveillance trap in Washington Township. About 20 light trap monitors are set up at various locations across the county, and mosquitoes are tested for the virus on a daily basis in its laboratory.

Although it is uncommon for symptoms to arise in people infected with West Nile virus, those with medical conditions such as cancer, diabetes and kidney disease may experience a headache, body aches, joint pains or a rash, according to a Mosquito Control news release. Less than 1 per cent of people infected will develop a serious neurologic illness such as encephalitis or meningitis, the release said.

It is not abnormal for mosquitoes to first test positive during the month of July in Marion County. Mosquito Control officials remind residents to be wary of standing water collecting outside their homes, small recreational pools and poorly operating septic systems, as even small amounts of standing water can serve as mosquito breeding grounds.

Originally published at Indianapolis StarUSA Today, The Arizona RepublicDetroit Free PressThe Tennessean or Democrat & Chronicle.

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About Alana Mitchelson

Alana Mitchelson is a journalist based in Melbourne, Australia. Follow her on Twitter at @AlanaMitchelson.

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