Region-wide drought could mean more mosquitos this summer

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Are you scratching at your mosquito bites? Or have you avoided these pesky, summer bugs? 

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture says mosquito activity has remained low, but fluctuating weather patterns could help them return. 

“We got off to a slow a start, but now we’re picking up steam,” said Patti Casey.

Casey is the Environmental Surveillance Program Director with the Vermont Agency of Agriculture. She and her colleagues work together to collect and examine mosquitos and ticks. 

“And then we have them tested for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) and West Nile Virus,” said Casey.

In 2013, Vermont reported two deaths from EEE. However, Casey says she hasn’t seen these pathogens in any mosquito samplings or needed to do aerial spraying since 2015. Her program works closely with the Department of Health to mitigate health concerns and ensure Vermonters’ safety.

“We tend to see the most mosquitos up in the Islands, along the lakeshore, along Lake Champlain any swampy or marshy areas. And then in the spring, wherever there’s flooding,” she said.

But dry conditions are impacting these ecosystems and, in turn, mosquitos. 

“Climate change does have a lot to do with that. We’re seeing area-wide, region-wide drought, which overall will suppress a lot of mosquito numbers,” said Casey.

To many, that might not sound like a bad thing. But, she says, drought conditions likely increase the number of mosquitos around the home, especially where water might collect.

“Swimming pools, kiddie pools, dog dishes, tarps that will hold water after you’ve watered your garden…they will come and breed in containers around our houses,” said Casey. 

There are ways to steer clear of these summer bugs while also enjoying the outdoors. Casey suggests getting rid of places where water collects, avoid going outside during dawn and dusk, wearing long sleeves and pants, and using EPA-approved bug repellent. 

“Keep yourself safe. I am an outdoors person and refuse to be kept inside because of mosquitos and ticks. You can do it safely,” said Casey.

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