'The warmer the weather, the faster their life cycle': Crews fighting against mosquitoes

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With a wet start to summer, followed by lots of heat, mosquitoes seem to be everywhere in Central Ohio. Licking County crews will be spraying this week to help combat the problem (WSYX/WTTE)

They’re pesky and a potential health issue.

“I think they are a whole lot worse this year,” said Dean Metheny of the Buckeye Lake area. “They have no fear and I’m getting eaten up right now, as a matter of fact.”

The Licking County Health Department team is taking on mosquitoes and the potential spread of disease by spraying across the county this week.

“We do a lot of trapping around the county so we can monitor that mosquito population and see if they are getting high,” said Health Commissioner Joe Ebel. “(We) also test those mosquitoes to see if they’re carrying West Nile virus. So both cases can trigger us to go out and do mosquito control.”

The team said hot temperatures also play a role.

“The hot weather certainly makes them more active,” said Ebel, “it also makes people more active. So, we are more likely to be out around dusk, you know, as the sun is going down and that’s when the mosquitoes are really coming out.”

As they focus on prevention and control, the health team is sending an urgent message to the community.

“Flower pots, containers, old tires, swimming pools and things like that that aren’t properly maintained and dumped out,” he said. “It only takes about a week in this kind of weather for mosquitoes to lay their eggs and for new mosquitoes to hatch out.” They also recommend using bug repellent with DEET, wearing long clothing if possible, and avoiding areas with a lot of mosquitoes. The Health Commissioner says teams have seen a lot of mosquitoes across Ohio because of the wet weather.

“Fortunately the number of mosquitoes carrying West Nile isn’t as high right now because they don’t like constant rain, they like real stagnant water,” said Ebel. “So, you know, as things start to dry out going into August or something, we could see those numbers start to climb.”

Families enjoying the summer heat in the Blackhand Gorge Area took what precautions they could Monday, like visiting the spot before dusk. “I just wear long sleeves if I am in a bad mosquito area,” said Matt Keil of Licking County.

The Health Commissioner also advises to be vigilant during all hours of the day.

“In Ohio, we really have West Nile virus and La Crosse encephalitis, those are the two big mosquito-borne diseases,” said Ebel. “In Licking County last year, we had a high number of those La Crosse encephalitis cases. Those mosquitoes will come out during the day and bite, so especially if you are around a wooded area or something, you can’t kind of ignore that.” The County hasn’t had any recorded cases yet of humans contracting any of the above mentioned diseases this summer.