Summer is a time of warmth, excitement and… mosquitoes. And this summer, they’re getting more buzz.
“It’s getting warm, it was wet and they like that,” said Dr. Deborah Waller, associate professor of biological sciences at Old Dominion University.
dr Waller says the early wet weather this year allowed the pests to take hold.
And no town on Hampton Roads escapes them.
“I think it’s bad everywhere,” said Dr. catfish
According to Penelope Smelser, an environmental health specialist for the City of Norfolk, around 25 to 30 different species of mosquitoes live right in our own backyards.
That means everyone has to do their part to clean up standing water around their homes.
“Even the smallest bit of water can breed mosquitoes,” Smelser said. “A lot of people point fingers at the swamp, the lake, the river, but it could just be a bottle cap next to their deck that breeds mosquitoes.”
Norfolk is spending $535,000 on its vector control program aimed at controlling mosquito and rodent populations.
While vector control and surveillance occurs year-round, scientists like Smelser also spend nearly 6 months surveying the land to check for disease and get the bugs before they bite.
“Spraying is the most expensive and probably the least effective… You will only kill things that are flying into the spray at that moment. It’s what people want to see the most, but it’s probably the least effective,” Smelser explained. “Unlike killing mosquito larvae, you kill them before they hatch, you can kill hundreds of thousands in an instant.”
As mosquito numbers increase, according to Dr. Waller counts the number of deadly diseases they transmit.
So if you wake up with an itchy red welt, biologists say you’re probably fine. But you better check if it is a mosquito and not something worse, like a bed bug.
“We expect 1.3 million people to travel 50 miles or more from home over the holiday weekend this year,” says Holly Dalby of AAA Tidewater.
As summer travel skyrockets, biologists say bed bugs are looking for any fabric to get their six legs on.
“Bed bugs are on the rise, many of them are resistant to pesticides and they’re hard to get rid of once you have them,” explained Dr. catfish
And like mosquitoes, bed bugs are everywhere.
“Even in the best hotels, the best cinemas, in some of these places you can still get bed bugs,” said Dr. catfish “You have to be very careful when you travel.
The biologist suggests inspecting the corners of hotel beds, and if you see small brown dots, that’s probably a sign of bed bugs.
Also, be sure to check electrical outlets, backpacks or luggage and toss everything in the dryer when you return home. The heat will kill any bed bugs that have attached themselves to clothing.
But while bed bugs are rather annoying, mosquitoes are important for our environment. They help pollinate flowers and contribute to some of the fruits and vegetables we all eat.
If possible, try to keep mosquitoes away with preventive lamps and sprays instead of killing them.