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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A trifecta of specific weather conditions have led to a bumper crop of mosquitoes in West Michigan.
Heavy rain, warm temperatures and a very light wind have proven to be the perfect recipe for the recent rise in people doing the “mosquito dance.”
PERFECT RECIPE EXPLAINED
Water is a critical component to a mosquito’s life cycle, and we’ve had plenty of that.
Although the past week has been quite dry, heavy rain Aug. 24 through Sept. 6 led to standing water that was more prevalent than at any other time this warm season.
Many areas across West Michigan during this time frame picked up 3 inches to as a much as 1 foot of rain, with measurable rain occurring 10 of 13 days.
A female mosquito only needs an inch or more of stagnant water to lay her eggs. Only female mosquitoes need to feed on blood for reproduction; once she has her feast, she can lay upwards of 300 eggs. During a mosquito’s lifespan of 4-8 weeks, she can do this as many as three times.
Mosquitoes like it warm as well. So far, September temperatures have been running a little higher than four degrees above average.
The average speed of a mosquito is approximately 1.5 mph, so they can move better when the wind is light. It’s definitely been that, with the average wind speed of just 3.2 mph between Sept. 11 and Sept.15.
The owner of Mosquito Squad, a pest control business in Grand Rapids and Holland, says his staff has been busier over the last week than they were nearly the entire month of August.
“This has been kind of a crazy September,” added owner Jack Den Uyl.
The company had to bring back some of its part-time workers to keep up with calls, according to Den Uyl.
“We have never seen a September like this,” he said.
This is the time of year when his company is usually winding down. Instead, Mosquito Squad has extended services into some weekends when they’re normally closed, just to keep up.
“It’s just perfect (weather) conditions for them to continue to breed,” said Grand Valley State University biology professor James Dunn, who also has a doctorate in entomology.
“They’re (mosquitoes are) up about three to four times higher than they normally are this time of year,” he added.
As mosquitoes ramp up, Den Uyl’s team has been called in to help at least one factory in Ravenna. It had to close due to the spike in the pests.
“Too many mosquitoes are coming in and they’re getting eaten alive,” he told 24 Hour News 8.
PREVENTING MOSQUITO BITES
Since most mosquitoes stay within several hundred feet from where they hatch, it’s a good practice to eliminate standing water around your yard. Typical culprits are bird baths, empty pails and other items on a patio and/or deck.
Insect repellant with DEET will certainly help your cause.
And consider exercising inside. Dunn says the scent of sweat and carbon dioxide emissions can attract more of the pesky insects.
Also, wearing light-colored clothes, a long-sleeved shirt and pants helps. The thicker the garment, the less likely the mosquito’s mouth (proboscis) will make it to your skin.
It also helps to be more in the open on a breezy day. Most mosquito species (there are 175 of them across the U.S.) have difficulty flying in breezy conditions.
How long can we expect this blood-sucking nuisance to stick around? Possibly right through September. Warmer and wetter conditions will prevail through that time-frame.
A wetter weather pattern will develop this Wednesday through Friday.
The medium range outlook also indicates a wetter pattern will continue through the end of September. This will coincide with a continuation of warmer than average temperatures.
What will eventually kill off the mosquitos is the inevitable first frost. That does not appear to be coming until October.