Mosquitoes scarce in region, but virus still a global threat

A couple of months ago, a top 20 listing of cities that were worst for mosquitoes was developed. Atlanta was first, Raleigh sixth, Charlotte ninth and Asheville 18th. A caveat to take into account is that the listing only has major cities and it was developed by Orkin. Rather than mosquitoes in the woods, these cities had a lot of containers of water allowing the breeding of a large number of mosquitoes.

Closer to home, I remarked to someone that there sure have not been any mosquitoes out at dusk as is the norm. Of course, the only benefit derived from a drought is the lessening of the mosquito population. With afternoon showers being forecasted, that may come to an end.

It is not peculiar to just Robeson County though. A person from Brunswick Mosquito Control remarked that, typically, they get a 1,000 to 15,000 mosquitoes in their traps — recently they got only 12. So it is regional in nature.

I read about a research project done regarding the cutting down of cattails and phragmites, or reeds, around water basins and the effects such had on mosquito populations. I think for us we can include ditches with standing water most of the time as well as water-retention ponds.

At any rate, after cutting or mowing this vegetation, mosquito populations soared as bacteria greatly increased and the larvae fed on it. It also meant that many of the birds had to move. While mosquitoes and birds are the transmission team for West Nile Virus, only certain birds, like robins, crows or blue jays, transmit the virus as they are not the birds found in the watery areas. Again, with the predicted showers, you might wait until it is drier to cut.

And, finally, Chikungunya Virus is now more prevalent in Central America than the Caribbean Islands. So for this year, we need to keep an eye out for the travelers from there more so than the islanders.

Bill Smith Smith

Bill Smith


Bill Smith is the director of the Robeson County Health Department.


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