This is an Aedes albopictus female mosquito obtaining a blood meal from a human host. Photo by: James Gathany
With heavy rains and flood warnings common this past month, mosquitoes have found a home in the standing waters that remain across Indiana.
Central Indiana normally has 4-5 inches of rain in June, but this year some areas have experienced twice that amount. Mosquitoes lay eggs in the standing water left from the storms, and soon their young will hatch.
"Within a week or two people are going to see the effects of rainfall in terms of numbers of biting mosquitoes," said Mike Sinsko, an entomologist with the Indiana State Department of Health. "It would not be surprising to see the numbers at least double in certain locations."
The number of mosquitoes in different parts of the state will depend on rainfall patterns, Sinsko said.
"As soon as weather patterns settle out, we are going to get plenty of mosquitoes hatching in pools of water," he said.
Ralph Williams, a Purdue University entomology professor, offered advice about how to avoid mosquito bites.
"Mosquito activity is most active in early morning and at dusk," he said. "When people are out and about, they should wear light-colored clothing."
Williams also suggests keeping grass and weeds cut low and removing standing water. He recommends Environmental Protection Agency-registered insect repellent with DEET, the most common active ingredient in insect repellents.
"If you have any concerns about children being exposed to DEET, check the label," Williams said.
The increase in mosquitoes could bring with it concerns about West Nile virus.
"So far this year we have not seen mosquitoes test positive, but this may change," Sinsko said. "This is about the time of year when transmissions do occur."
The Indiana State Department of Health annually monitors West Nile virus throughout Indiana by trapping mosquitoes and testing them for the virus.
To learn more about mosquitoes, visit the Purdue Extension website at http://extension.entm.purdue.edu
An interactive Purdue Extension tool to learn where to expect mosquito activity is available at http://extension.entm.purdue.edu/mosquito_tool/index.html