Mosquitoes are back and rainfall will determine their number
One of New Jersey's most pesky warm weather insects is back - the mosquito.
As of now, experts expect mosquito activity to be normal this spring and summer, but the amount of rainfall New Jersey could see in the coming months could make a difference.
"Rainfall patterns may change for the better or for the worse, (and that) will influence dramatically what kind of mosquito season you have," said Joe Conlon, a technical advisor with the American Mosquito Control Association in Mount Laurel.
Regardless of the rainfall pattern this spring and summer, Conlon said sometimes the Jersey shore will experience a different mosquito season than the rest of the state.
"Up and down the coast of New Jersey you are going to have these salt marsh mosquito breeders, which are going to breed regardless because their eggs hatch in saltwater that comes in on the extremely high tides," Conlon said.
He added that New Jersey's cold and harsh winter does that impact the mosquito population.
"Even if you have an abnormally cold winter, it generally does not affect the mosquito population," Conlon said.
One of the still evolving questions from year to year about mosquitoes is how they will impact the West Nile virus. Conlon said that's normally not something people have to be worried about until late summer. "If you have got West Nile virus transmission now, which you don't, then you have real serious issues."
Conlon said humans have a big impact on mosquito severity because they can control their breeding opportunities by getting rid of standing water that is often located outside of houses. He said eliminating standing water will lower the mosquito population and reduce their interaction with humans, meaning less mosquito bites during the spring and summer.
The American Mosquito Control Association recommends following the "3 D's" for mosquito prevention:
- Drain - Get rid of any type of standing water that you can. Mosquitoes can breed in discarded soda bottle caps. You need to be very fastidious about that in places like woodpiles that have tarps over them; the creases in the tarps are wonderful places for mosquitoes to breed.
- Dress properly - If at all possible, wear long sleeves, loose-fitting clothing because mosquitoes can and will bite through tight-fitting clothing. And wear long pants if you can.
- Defend - Utilize an EPA-registered repellent. The Environmental Protection Agency registers repellents that have proven to be effective and safe to use. It will say "EPA registered" right above where they list the ingredients. If it has an EPA registration, that means that it is good for at least four hours. There is more information about EPA-registered repellents at http://www2.epa.gov/insect-repellents.
Over 60 species of mosquitoes have been found in the Garden State, and 3,000 throughout the world.