By Kelly Oten
Top 3 Things You Need to Know About Mosquitoes After a Flood
Excessive rainfall from Hurricane Florence dealt a major blow to North Carolina, but there is one critter that will thrive, mosquitoes. Some species of mosquitoes lay egg rafts floating on the water surface that can hatch within 24-48 hrs. Other species, appropriately called “floodwater mosquitoes”, lay their eggs in lowland areas such as floodplains but also in flooded containers and tree holes. Some species of these eggs will hatch relatively soon but others can survive a dry period until the area floods again initiating a second or third hatch much later. Once flooded, the moisture cues the eggs to hatch and the mosquito larvae (called “wrigglers”) emerge into the water, ultimately developing into the blood-thirsty fliers we all love to hate.
- Expect them. Generally, floodwater mosquito adults make their appearance about 2-weeks after a flood. Others may be sooner depending on the species. One thing is for certain, they will be out and hungry!
- Do not freak out (too much)! While some species in North Carolina do not vector disease pathogens, others are known to carry viruses like West Nile. For more information on mosquito borne disease in North Carolina visit https://epi.publichealth.nc.gov/cd/arbo/arbo_fs.pdf. Remember, the mosquitoes themselves are still very annoying and they deliver a bite certain to itch for days. Reactions can vary greatly from person to person, but we can all agree that mosquito bites are awful.
- Protect yourself! Luckily, there are many ways to reduce your exposure to mosquitoes. Limit your time outdoors during their active period, between dusk and dawn. Wear long pants and sleeves and closed-toed shoes when you are outside. For increased protection, apply an insect repellent according to label directions. Repellents that contain DEET or picaridin are the most effective and long-lasting.
Another thing to consider is keeping mosquitoes out of your home. Check windows for ill-fitting or torn screens and keep doors and windows closed. To reduce mosquitoes in the environment, be sure to empty containers with standing water, as these are prime mosquito breeding habitats.