Officials Warn of Increase in Mosquito Population - KHGI-TV/KWNB-TV/KHGI-CD-Grand Island, Kearney, Hastings

Officials Warn of Increase in Mosquito Population

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Officials with the University of Nebraska Extension office are saying though the rain has helped ease some of the state's drought woes, it has also led to more mosquitoes this year than last.

"Last year we had a lot of rainy weather in the spring and then it dried up," Barbara Ogg, UNL Extension educator, said. "It's going to be a problem in areas where we've seen abundant rain."

Ogg said the best way to avoid getting bitten is to avoid being outside at times when mosquitoes are most active, such as dawn and dusk. 

"If you need to do yard work, do it in the day, when most mosquitoes aren't very active," advised Ogg.

Another way to keep the mosquito population under control is to make sure there is no standing water in the yard. Tip over containers that will hold water when it rains.

For individuals who must be outside when mosquitoes are active, several insect repellents can help keep the pests away.

"DEET repellents are still probably the best and prevent bites longer than other types," shared Ogg.  

Other effective repellents available include the chemical picaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus. All of these repellents are recommended by the CDC.

In Nebraska, Culex tarsalis, sometime called the western encephalitis mosquito, is the mosquito species that is most likely to harbor the West Nile virus. It feeds primarily on nesting birds early in the spring and early summer and then switches to feeding on humans and other animals after the birds leave their nests.

"By mid-July, nesting is over and the C. tarsalis mosquitoes begin feeding on people and other animals," Ogg said. Most incidents of West Nile encephalitis are reported between mid-July and the first hard frost.

People are advised to be cautious to avoid being bitten. Ogg says young, healthy individuals rarely have severe reaction to the virus, but people with auto-immune disorders and anyone over the age of 65 are more at risk for a severe response. 

More information can be found at the University of Nebraska Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources website.

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