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Mosquito Onslaught Expected After Floods | Weather

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Mosquito Onslaught Expected After Floods

FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va.  (WUSA) -- Blame Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee for that bumper crop of mosquitoes you're starting to see and feel.  This late-season breeding has increased the risk of West Nile virus.

Fairfax County biologist John Orr is checking on the mosquito traps set up Huntington where the flood has left behind a mosquito paradise.

The county's environmental health department has set out a total of 12 traps in the Huntington area, anticipating a rise in the mosquito population.

Joshua Smith, Fairfax County environmental health specialist, keeps track of the bugs is expecting a boost in the population.

The tiny Asian Tiger mosquito loves to feed on humans.
It lays its eggs one at a time, often gluing them inside small water-filled containers such as bottle caps. The Culex lays its eggs 300 at a time.

"Most mosquitoes prefer to be active during the night, but the Asian Tiger mosquitoes are notorious for being active during the day," said Smith.

It's the Culex that can carry the West Nile virus, even though it supposedly prefers birds, one had a meal on this reporter who had followed a biologist Orr to Huntington.

They're using several different types of traps. One trap uses standing water; other traps use chemical lures and dry ice.

"When the ground becomes saturated like this, you're going to wind up with pools of standing water that can last long enough for mosquitoes to breed," says University of Maryland entomologist Mike Raupp.

To keep your backyard from breeding mosquitoes, search for standing water. Empty all of it from gardening containers, pails and recycling bins -- anywhere water pools. Plug your drains.

"Bird baths should be emptied twice a week," Raupp says.
For pools of water that cannot be emptied, Raupp recommends Mosquito Dunks.

"This is a microbial insecticide, formulated like a doughnut. You simply toss a couple of these things in a pool of standing water and it will kill the mosquito larvae in a very environmentally safe way."

Flood water mosquitoes breeding in fields and near rivers will have to be dealt with by state and local governments, Raupp says.

"I think a lot of municipalities are looking at this very heavily right now," stated Raupp. 

Officials in Delaware are using aerial spraying and ground-based fogging to control the mosquito population and minimize the threat of West Nile virus and mosquito-borne encephalitis.

Raupp says his biggest concern right now are all the bites coming from the little house mosquito. Both the Asian Tiger and house mosquito are potential vectors for disease.

Raupp stated, "This is the time of year we see West Nile cases start to accumulate."