Mosquito population smaller than average, but season is just beginning

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POSTED: Tuesday, May 20, 2014 - 5:00am

UPDATED: Tuesday, May 20, 2014 - 3:58pm

When the weather gets nice, we all want to go outside. Unfortunately, so do mosquitoes.

"I think we're having a little more problems than we did last year," claimed Dr. Todd Walker, Director of East Baton Rouge Parish Mosquito Abatement and Rodent Control.

But even with a larger population than 2013, 2014's season is currently better than average.

Many people thought the ice storms Baton Rouge experienced this winter would kill them all off, but Walker said that is a myth.

"We've never really found that a cooler season, a cooler winter, has really affected the upcoming mosquito population the following year," he explained. "I would think we'd have to have something like what happens up in Chicago-area, or something like that."

Trucks began spraying East Baton Rouge Parish on April 26, while officers spray larvicide all year long. So far, there have not been any pools in which West Nile Virus has been found anywhere in Louisiana. Last year there were only three, but it is too early to know if 2014 will be the same.

"We could have problems with mosquitoes this year, too," Walker warned. "It all depends on how much rain we get, whether we get tropical storms."

West Nile is not the only disease that has experts worried. A new one, called chikungunya, is in the Caribbean, and could spread to the U.S. It causes fever and severe joint pain that can last for months.

"Personally, you know, wear your DEET, long sleeves. Just do the general personal protective measures to keep from being bitten by mosquitoes," Walker suggested. "Otherwise, there's not a whole lot we can do about it, just wait and see what happens."

Someone from the Centers for Disease Control visited Baton Rouge to give a seminar to local officials about the dangers of chikungunya, but there is no way to know if or when it would arrive here. Until then, Walker will remain happy with the current mosquito season.

"Hopefully it continues this way," he said, "hopefully mosquito populations are down. Hopefully it'll be like last year."

Walker mentioned that mosquito numbers are low in part because we have not had the typical afternoon rain showers yet. Most of the rain we have seen this spring came from strong storms, which actually help by flushing out the ditches where mosquitoes often breed.

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