Home Health After the floods, mosquitoes will be even worse. Here’s how to avoid...

After the floods, mosquitoes will be even worse. Here’s how to avoid them.



Des Moines Register

Published 4:30 p.m. CT July 6, 2018

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A mosquito season that was already off to a fast start is about to get worse.

Last weekend’s floods left behind standing water across the metro that, combined with the hot weather, creates the perfect breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

“The most prevalent mosquito in central Iowa is heavily influenced by rain and flood, so the expectation is we should see an increase in mosquitoes,” said Dr. Ryan Smith, assistant professor of entomology at Iowa State University. “It’s hard to predict moving forward, but with all the water we’ve had, I’m sure we’ll see another emergence.”

AccuWeather, which produces a forecast specifically focused on the pest, predicts extreme mosquito activity in Des Moines for much of the next two weeks. Two weeks is, coincidentally, about the amount of time it takes for mosquitoes to hatch and develop in standing water, so don’t expect much relief after that. 

Getting rid of mosquitoes

If you don’t want to be bothered by these pests, you’ll want to eliminate the areas where they breed.

“The main part here is trying to remove any standing water around your home,” Smith said. “We’ve got a little playhouse for my daughters that has standing water in it, and I need to go dump that out.”

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Flower pots, gutters and birdbaths are other common places where standing water could attract mosquitoes.

After the heavy rains and flooding of last weekend, some residents may struggle to get rid of standing water. If you can’t do it on your own, you can get help from the Des Moines city government.

The city has a mosquito hotline (515-248-6099) for residents to report standing water or request their neighborhood be sprayed with insecticide. If the water can’t be removed, the city can treat it with pre-hatch control instead.

Additionally, Des Moines sprays for mosquito control throughout the summer. The map below shows the areas (in green) scheduled for mosquito spraying this week.

You can also keep mosquitoes away by cutting tall grass and wearing repellent. Oscillating fans can also stop mosquitoes, as they’re weak flyers.

Some plants release a scent that naturally repels mosquitoes. Garden Design Magazine suggests lavender, marigolds, citronella grass, catnip, rosemary, basil, or scented geraniums.

Should I be worried about West Nile virus?

While an increase in mosquitoes typically raises concern over diseases like West Nile virus, Smith said mosquitoes that hatch after floods don’t usually transmit the disease, which killed two Iowans last year. The populations likely to increase after the heavy rains are just nuisance mosquitoes.

“West Nile is highest in periods of drought,” Smith said. “And we haven’t really been in a drought.”

The virus hasn’t been found in humans in Iowa this year, according to the CDC, but it has been found in other animals in the state.

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