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Mosquito sprayers ready for onslaught of insects

By Jed Boal | Posted - May 5, 2011 at 5:58 p.m.


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OGDEN — Outside, it's really starting to feel like spring. Unfortunately, the bugs have noticed too, and it won't be long before mosquitoes are on the warpath.

"As soon as it starts warming up enough for them to be out at night, and out flying, and not just hanging around, you'll start seeing them out," says Kaycee Hatch with Davis Mosquito Abatement District.

A wet year, like this one, means more of them — especially if we have a hot summer too.

Did you know?
  • Mosquitoes find hosts by sight (they observe movement); by detecting infra-red radiation emitted by warm bodies; and by chemical signals (mosquitoes are attracted to carbon dioxide and lactic acid, among other chemicals)
  • Bigger people are often more attractive to mosquitoes because they are larger targets and they produce more mosquito attractants, namely CO2 and lactic acid.
  • Active or fidgety people also produce more CO2 and lactic acid.
  • Women are usually more attractive to mosquitoes than men because of the difference in hormones produced by the sexes.
  • Blondes tend to be more attractive to mosquitoes than brunettes.
  • Smelly feet are attractive to mosquitoes — as is Limburger Cheese.
  • Dark clothing attracts mosquitoes.
  • Movement increased mosquito biting up to 50% in some research tests.
  • A full moon increased mosquito activity 500% in one study

Fortunately, our mosquito abatement districts are ready to fight back.

KSL News caught up with Jack Crossen of the Weber Mosquito Abatement District as he fished mosquito larvae out of marshland not far from the Great Salt Lake.

In less than a month, those larvae may emerge as adults, ready to suck your blood and potentially spread West Nile Virus.

"There's definitely mosquito activity out by the lakes, out by areas where farmers are flooding their fields, and stream overflows," Hatch said.

Here's why the experts expect a big mosquito year: The mosquitoes lay their eggs in the mud along the banks of rivers, streams and ponds. When the water rises, that enables the eggs to hatch. Those eggs can live for 10 years, so a big water year leads to a big hatch.

"The more water there is, the more mosquitoes you're going to have," said Bruce Bennett, director of Weber Mosquito Abatement District.

Each year, Bennett invites other nearby mosquito abatement district crews to come calibrate their fogging equipment they deploy from the backs of pick-up trucks.

They make sure the machines put out the right amount of insecticide. You could call it the unofficial beginning of the mosquito season — and that surely means it's past time for the beginning of the outdoor grilling season. So, they tune up the equipment, and grab a burger from the grill.

But you may never even see them in your neighborhood. Like many mosquitoes, they start their work after dark.

"We won't start spraying in the neighborhoods for another couple of weeks," Hatch said.

This year, most of us will be glad they sprayed.

"The hotter the temperatures, and the more water, you're bound to have more insect production of every kind," Bennett said.

How bad would the mosquitoes be without spraying? Bennett has worked at mosquito abatement 50 years. He says the bugs would be unbearable.

Email: jboal@ksl.com

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Jed Boal

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