Wet winter means more mosquitos this summer, experts say

Wicked storms left muddled messes and a more humid enviornment; here's what you need to know as summer approaches.
Published: Mar. 31, 2023 at 9:49 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Health experts are encouraging Arizonans to stock up on bug spray after a wetter-than-normal winter this year. As the summer months begin, the Maricopa County Environmental Services is already warning individuals to use caution.

The county’s Vector Control Division says that mixing Arizona’s hot temperatures with the moisture already on grass and plants could create a mosquito hotbed more than usual this year. On top of your chances of infection increasing, the division is concerned that West Nile Virus could spread quickly this year. The virus spreads through mosquitos that bite humans, so for prevention purposes, the department continuously deploys around 800 routine traps each week.

Over the years, hundreds of positive mosquitos have been trapped over the years. John Townsend, vector control manager, said it affects human infection rates significantly. “2021 was the largest year for West Nile cases in both mosquitos and humans,” he said. “We had almost 1,500 human cases in Maricopa County.”

According to Maricopa County, the virus takes between two and 6 days for symptoms to show. Only 1 in every 5 people infected will typically have symptoms, which include vomiting, diarrhea, rash, body aches, headaches, etc. The virus can, in some cases, kill those over the age of 60 who become infected, including those with organ transplants, cancer, diabetes, kidney disease, and hypertension.

Infection rates are subject to change across the year due to weather, temperatures, and other factors. That record-breaking year in 2021 found 764 West Nile virus-positive mosquitos. The right insect repellent can alter your chances of getting a virus, however. Besides the spray, the department said that they encourage everyone to use a “backyard checklist.”

The department suggests removing standing water like plant pots, bird baths, kiddie pools, buckets, fountains, etc. If you have an in-ground pool, be sure your pool cover doesn’t collect water as that can present opportunities for a mosquito breeding ground as well.