Mosquitoes arrive early this year thanks to warm winter, recent rainfall

It was so beautiful this weekend it was hard to resist the call of the outdoors. But as you were enjoying time at the park, grilling out in the backyard or even taking a dip in the pool, maybe you heard a faint buzzing in your ear, or even felt a little itch on your forearm. But mosquitoes couldn’t be here already, could they?

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Mosquito season could start early this year. credit: Agencia Reforma

“It’s been an unusually warm winter, so it wouldn’t be a shock with the warmer temperatures that mosquito activity would increase,” said Whitney Qualls, medical entomologist with that Texas Department of State Health Services. “We typically expect our mosquito season to be from May through November. Due to warmer temperatures and rainfall, it’s no surprise that mosquitoes are out and about.”

Thanks to the combination of few below-freezing winter days and plentiful recent rains, chances are good mosquitoes will start making a strong appearance this year in April.

Some interesting mosquito facts:

“There’s a number of different mosquitos that are present in Austin,” said Qualls, who studies the Zika and West Nile mosquito vectors. “The Zika vectors breed in containers. Right now is the perfect time to dump out that fresh spring rainfall every three to five days. If people are doing that, they’re reducing the next generation of mosquitoes.”

The Texas Department of State Health Services offers updates every Tuesday on the number of Zika virus disease cases in Texas broken down by the patient’s county of residence. As of the end of last week, there have been seven reported cases of Zika this year: one in Bexar County, one in Brazoria County, two in Cameron County, one in Collin County, one in Lubbock County and one in Smith County. From December 2015 to December 2016, there were 317 reported cases of illness due to Zika.

RELATED: TEXAS OFFICIALS CONFIRM FIRST CASE OF ZIKA SPREAD LOCALLY

“We have the right environment, meaning we have warm weather, we have the right vectors, and we do still see a lot of people traveling from areas where there is an ongoing outbreak,” Qualls said. “Conditions are favorable for potential local transmission.”

 The Texas Department of State Health Services offers the following tips for protecting yourself from the Zika virus:

• Apply EPA-registered insect repellents.  
• Wear pants and long-sleeved shirts that cover exposed skin.  
• Use screens or close windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out of your home.  
• Remove standing water in and around your home.  
• Cover trash cans or containers where water can collect.  
Learn more about the virus and reported cases at dshs.texas.gov/news/updates.shtm

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