Archive for Saturday, May 12, 2007

Wet spring raises concerns about mosquito numbers

May 12, 2007

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— Health authorities hope Kansas' wet weather this spring doesn't translate into a surge in mosquito numbers.

"It's going to depend on temperature, how long the water stays on the ground, things like that," said Ludek Zurek, an assistant professor of entomology at Kansas State University.

"If it's standing water, there is a chance there might be an increase in mosquitoes," Zurek said. But as long as water is moving, even slowly, "that's good enough to prevent mosquito development."

Under ideal conditions, Zurek said, mosquitoes will develop in seven days. But this early in the year, he said, it would take 10 days for a noticeable increase in mosquitoes.

Zurek said he has not seen an unusual number of mosquitoes this year.

In the Wichita area, the Sedgwick County Health department has targeted mosquitos at the larval stage.

The department has been putting out larvicide briquettes since mid-March, said Cindy Burbach, the county's director of health protection and promotion. The Sedgwick County agency sent a box of the briquettes to Greensburg on Wednesday, in an effort to prevent mosquito development in the damaged town.

In Sedgwick County, the larvicide is placed in ponds and standing water on public property. Private property owners can either empty standing water or buy larvicide to put in it, Burbach said.

Examples of standing water on private property could include bird baths, wading pools and pet bowls, which health officials said should be changed at least every three days.

The briquettes' effects should last through the mosquito season, she said.

Zurek, the entomology professor, said the species appearing now are less likely to carry West Nile virus, which can be transmitted to humans. Those species show up in late summer and early fall.

And the species out now are not very good carriers of West Nile virus, which can be transmitted to humans. Those will show up in late summer and early fall, Zurek said.

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