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Short Mosquito Season Squishes West Nile Threat

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(credit: CBS) John Lauritsen
John Lauritsen is a reporter from Montevideo, Minn. He joined WCCO-...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Mosquitoes are not exactly the sign of spring that most of us look for.

But entomologist Sandy Brogren says that seeing mosquito larvae on the move is a sign that mosquito weather is coming.

“A lot of the mosquitoes I’m looking at under the microscope today have hatched as a result of the snow melt,” said Brogren, who works for the Metropolitan Mosquito Control District.

Last year, mosquitoes were out a month earlier than normal. This year, they are a couple weeks behind. But that doesn’t mean they can’t catch up.

During a normal spring, a lot of standing water in low-lying areas would be mostly gone by now. But the fact that standing water is still on the ground gives some mosquito larvae a little more time to grow.

“They are kind of poised to have an explosion in mosquito numbers once we get a couple weeks of nice, warm weather,” said Mike McLean of the Metropolitan Mosquito Control District.

Still, he believes the mosquito season will likely be shorter if we have a fall with normal to cool temperatures. That’s a good thing because we jumped from just two cases of West Nile Virus in 2011, to 70 cases last year. That was, in part, because mosquitoes were able to get out weeks earlier than normal. It’s the opposite this year.

“It’s going to take quite a while for West Nile virus to cook back up. It kind of depends on the other end of the season. But with this delay, I don’t think we are going to have as long of a season as we had last year,” McLean said.

McLean said that even with the mosquito population a little behind, the cool weather has really no impact on ticks.

He said once the ground temperature hits 40 degrees, deer ticks are on the move, and the threat of Lyme Disease increases.

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