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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s nearing the time of year when pesky mosquitoes and gnats are out in Minnesota.

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Mosquito control is considered an essential health service, and crews are out surveying areas to treat while adjusting to the new normal.

The Metropolitan Mosquito Control District does surveillance in seven metro counties while making adjustments due to the pandemic, according to field operations supervisor Ben Lubeck.

“This year we’re just going to be learning as we go and keep everyone safe around us,” Lubeck said.

He says mosquito season is dependent on how much rainfall there is and the water temperature. The primary focus is on wetlands, where larvae lives around the edge.

“When the water level rises, those eggs are activated, and then they turn into mosquito larvae,” Lubeck said. “We have roughly seven days to get our material into the water before they hatch into adults.”

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The job is changing. They’re limiting contact, staggering start times and wearing masks. And there’s a reduction of about 16% in seasonal employees.

MMCD’s public affairs coordinator Alex Carlson says they’re restructuring their approach.

“We’re also going to be focusing on where can we have, with the resources that we have available, where can we have the most impact on the greatest number of people,” Carlson said. “It’s neighborhoods, it’s parks, places with lots of population.”

Individuals will play an even more important role in reducing breeding sites this year. There are things you can do at home, like getting rid of standing water, turning over buckets and making sure tarps are clear.

“That helps us out, and that helps out your neighbors, too, with everybody in the neighborhood these days,” Carlson said. “That will help make the summer a little bit more livable.

You can still contact the Metropolitan Mosquito Control District if there’s a problem area, but they ask you to be patient as there may be delays with staff stretched thin.

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Jennifer Mayerle