An Iowa State University mosquito expert says you really can make a difference in the amount of mosquitoes around your home.
ISU assistant professor of entomology Ryan Smith says mosquito populations are starting to pick up some in different areas of the state. “I think it really just kind of depends on the given location, I think the temperatures are getting a little bit warmer, we’ve had some rain, but not quite as much in the recent week. So I think the increased temperatures are allowing the mosquitoes to finally show their ugly heads,” Smith says.
He says mosquitoes need to get blood from somewhere to help them reproduce. “Just a single female mosquito can lay anywhere between 50 to 100 eggs. That one female might feed multiple times during her lifetime. And each time that she feeds on one of us — taking a blood meal — that provides a nutrient source to produce eggs. Each time that they bite us they are actually trying to have offspring,” Smith says. “And so, a female mosquito might feed multiple times in their life, and just that one mosquito might produce maybe 300 mosquitoes.”
So, one way you can keep the female mosquito from reproducing is by not becoming a meal. Smith says you can do this by wearing repellent and proper clothing. He says some of the mosquitoes don’t feed exclusively on human and can feed on birds or dogs and cats. “But really, just preventing any biting and removing any standing water around the home can actually make an important difference in kind of eliminating mosquitoes,” Smith explains.
Most of the mosquitoes that are buzzing about now are what Smith calls nuisance species. “They will bite humans — but they don’t really transmit disease — and so, that’s kind of why I use the word nuisance. They will bite and feed off of people, but there’s no real major kind of health concern,” Smith says.
Smith says the mosquitoes that do carry West Nile are already showing up in some places. “Populations that can be important for West Nile Virus transmission — we start to see them already — but really as the summer time progresses, their number and populations will continue to build,” Smith says. Smith’s studies of mosquitoes show that the mosquitoes that carry the West Nile Virus are most prevalent on the western side of the state and the populations drop down as you get to central and eastern Iowa.