Heat Keeps the Mosquitoes Down

Heat Keeps the Mosquitoes Down

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- While the wet, cool spring provided ideal breeding conditions for mosquitoes, the hot weather this month has reversed the situation -- for the moment.

"Right now, we're seeing mosquitoes that are below our three-year average," said Sam Dickson, manager of the Salt Lake City Mosquito Abatement District.

However, Dickson said that as the wetlands and marshes begin to dry up, mosquitoes will go to manmade water sources, such as irrigation for crops, pastures, golf courses, parks and lawns.

Dickson said the heat is a double-edge sword, creating a need for more irrigation water, which in turn creates a place for mosquitoes to breed.

"People need to be aware that when they water their lawns, they need to make sure the water stays on their lawns," and doesn't create stagnant puddles, he said.

And, although the mosquito population is decreasing, the last week of July through the first couple weeks of August is the time for mosquitoes that can transport disease, like West Nile virus.

The night-flying C. tarsalis mosquito, which can carry West Nile virus, has caused no problems in Utah so far this summer.

Although active surveillance has been ongoing for weeks, no West Nile has been detected in humans, birds, horses or mosquitoes in Utah so far this summer.

But state health officials said that could change at any time.

Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming all have detected the virus in humans or animals this season.

The Salt Lake Valley Health Department and area mosquito abatement districts have announced plans for more extensive spraying between 9 p.m. and midnight to combat the mosquitoes if the virus becomes a problem.

In the meantime, Utahns are urged to use DEET-containing repellents whenever they're outside between dusk and dawn, the hours when mosquitoes that could carry West Nile are most active.

They also are urged to report any downed birds from the raptor or corvid families to their state Division of Wildlife Resource office.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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