BY MELINDA WILLIAMS
Clipper Staff Writer
KAYSVILLE — Mosquitoes are out and they’re biting.
“Right now it’s gearing up to be a pretty busy year for us,” said Gary Hatch, director of the Davis County Mosquito Abatement District.
This year could also be bad for West Nile Virus.
“Last year, there was an increase in West Nile in southern Utah,Texas and Arizona, so we could be seeing an increase in activity,” Hatch said. “We’re watching it very closely.”
Those mosquitoes that are already active are adults that have been in hibernation all winter. They are mainly of a breed that are “nasty biters that leave big welts,” but don’t carry West Nile, Hatch said.
His crews are already out, spraying when they can, but because temperatures drop significantly in the evening hours, “by time our crews are out there, the mosquitoes are no longer flying.”
Still, crews are spraying larvae and treating water sources to get a jump on mosquitoes that haven’t hatched, he said.
“We’re not finding mosquitoes that are newly hatched,” he said.
The district has already received numerous calls. Between the third week of March and April 4, the district received about 80 calls, Hatch said.
Temperatures this spring so far have been below normal and rainy conditions have kept mosquitoes from hatching, Hatch said.
By the end of April, temperatures will stabilize and warm, creating ideal conditions for mosquito larvae to hatch.
“We’re anticipating a heavy spring population,” Hatch said.
It’s not too early for those who plan to be outdoors at dawn and dusk to use mosquito repellant containing DEET, he said.
It will become especially important as the breeds most likely to carry the West Nile Virus begin to hatch.
Most cases of West Nile are seen in July, August and September.
West Nile is a cyclical disease, Hatch said. Part of the reason for that is that it is a bird disease.
“As the population of susceptible birds increases, a wave of West Nile comes in,” Hatch said. “As the infected birds drop off, so does the disease.”
Birds most likely to carry West Nile are the corvidae group, including magpies, crows ravens and scrub jays; raptors, including eagles, hawks falcons and owls; and birds common to the area such as finches, robins ad sparrows. Hatch said raptors tend to be very susceptible to the virus.
The district is again offering its ornamental pond program this year. Davis County residents who have ornamental ponds in their yards may have mosquito-eating fish or other product delivered for free to keep mosquitos from hatching, Hatch said. Anyone interested may call the district at 801-544-3736 to sign up or to receive more information.