After weeks of near-continuous rain and flooding, North Texas is finally starting to dry out. But with the break from the wet weather comes millions of mosquitoes.
“You will see more mosquitoes as the rains stop, but where you will see the mushrooming of mosquitoes is about 10 to 14 days,” said Brandon Bennett, Fort Worth Director of Public Health and Code Compliance.
“What happens is the water really needs to sit for a while. It becomes stale. There’s organics that that start to break down in it. It becomes a great source pool where the mosquitoes can put their larvae. They feed off of it,” Bennett explained. “They grow and they become full-blown mosquitoes. We have people walking around slapping and fighting them off.”
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2020 saw a year with an uptick in West Nile positive mosquitoes but lower positive cases in humans. Public Health officials theorize the lower human case numbers are due to the pandemic and people staying home.
Fort Worth has just recently started trapping mosquitoes for this year and has not had any of the insects test positive as of this report.
“We trap the mosquitoes and send them to the lab. Within a few days we will get the result and then if there are positive tests then we will make an environmental assessment of what that actually means and then make a strategic plan accordingly,” Bennett said. “A single hot spot here and there is probably not a lot to worry about. We’ll push out some education to say ‘in this ZIP code we’ve had a positive mosquito or two.’"
“If we start seeing repeated positive samples multiple weeks, that’s when we will then up the strategy and we’ll go door-to-door with education. We will seek out source pools – like neighborhood ponds,” Bennett added.
When a human tests positive in an area, ground spraying will likely be necessary.
How to Protect Yourself From Mosquito Bites
- Dress in long sleeves, pants when outside. For extra protection, spray thin clothing with repellent.
- DEET: Make sure this ingredient is in your insect repellent.
- Drain standing water in your yard and neighborhood: Mosquitoes can develop in any water stagnant for more than three days.
It has been recommended in the past that to avoid mosquito bites you should avoid being outdoors during Dusk and Dawn (the 4 Ds). While this is true for mosquitoes that commonly carry the West Nile virus, other types of mosquitoes that are more likely to carry Zika, dengue and chikungunya are active during the day.
When outdoors, no matter what time of day, adjust your dress accordingly and wear insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus as your first line of defense against insect bites.