Fewer mosquitoes flying about, but more may carry disease
6/22/12 Vernon HIlls Andy Larson, a Clarke Mosquito Control staffer, the small soluble packs used in the Vernon Hills subdivisions to treat storm water basins for mosquito larvae on Friday, June 22nd. | Dan Luedert~Sun-Times Media
How bad have mosquitoes been in your area so far?
Updated: July 29, 2012 6:15AM
Local residents may not notice as many mosquitoes when enjoying outdoor activities this summer, but the types of mosquitoes out there may be more likely to be disease carriers.
The hot, dry conditions for most of the spring and into the summer have kept down the number of nuisance floodwater mosquitoes this year.
“We really haven’t seen a traditional summer with significant spring rains,” said George Balis, an entomologist with Roselle-based Clarke Mosquito Control, which provides mosquito control services for many Lake County communities including Libertyville, Mundelein and Vernon Hills. “This year has been very dry and very warm since March. We haven’t seen an early surge of floodwater mosquitoes as we’ve seen over the past several years.”
Normally by this time of year, Clarke has conducted at least one community-wide spraying in the Lake County towns it serves to reduce the nuisance problem caused by floodwater mosquitoes but there has not been a need to do thus far based on mosquito counts. However, Clarke crews continue to do larval and catch basin treatments to reduce mosquito breeding.
Libertyville Village Administrator Kevin Bowens said the village spends about $25,200 a year on its mosquito abatement program through Clarke, which pays for larval and stormwater basin treatments and up to four community-wide sprayings a year as well as a spraying of the grounds at Butler Lake Park before the Fourth of July fireworks display.
Bowens said complaints about mosquitoes have been less than normal years.
“We had some calls in late March and early April because of the warm weather we had then, but we really haven’t had many calls recently,” he said.
While the numbers of mosquitoes may be down, that does not mean there is lower risk, Balis said. In reality, the Culex or northern house mosquito, which carries the West Nile Virus, tends to breed in warm, small pools or water so the hot, dry conditions may increase the likelihood of disease-carrying mosquitoes.
So far, there have been no positive tests for West Nile virus in mosquito pools or birds in Lake County this summer, the earliest indicators for the presence of the virus. There have also been no human cases of West Nile reported.
However, there have been reports of positive mosquito samples in Cook and DuPage counties, he said.
“We’re still very early in the summer, but generally when you have hotter drier seasons, it increases the risk of mosquito-borne disease,” he said.
Balis advises residents to pour out manmade containers of stagnant water around the house, such as children’s swimming pools, old flower pots or wheelbarrows, where Culex mosquitoes can breed. He said people should also be aware of pools of standing water near their homes or unmaintained swimming pools on foreclosed properties, which can be sources of mosquito breeding. He also advises residents to use mosquito repellent when outdoors.
The Lake County Health Department has activated its West Nile virus hotline for residents to report dead birds, areas of stagnant water or to obtain information on the signs and symptoms of West Nile encephalitis. The health department’s West Nile hotline number is (847) 377-8300.
Clarke Mosquito Control also has a hotline residents can call at (800) 942-2555.