Mosquitoes are bad in San Antonio this summer. Here’s what to do about it. – San Antonio Express-News

The February freeze did nothing to kill off the mosquitoes, and the rainfall we’ve seen over the past few months have created the perfect conditions for a vengeful comeback this summer. 

“We weren’t catching mosquitoes in early March and thought it would be a light season, and maybe the freeze wiped them out,” said Joel Lara, who has been catching blood suckers for Metro Health’s Vector Control Services since 2016. “But with the rains in late May, June and July, there was a short break and then this explosion of mosquitoes.” 

So far this year, the San Antonio Airport has seen above-average rainfall levels. With higher chances of sunshine this week, the city’s Vector Control program has been flooded with calls from residents complaining about the mosquitoes in their area.  

On It’s mosquito season, and the wet spring means bigger, more aggressive biters are out in force

While not as bad as other cities, San Antonio has routinely landed on Orkin’s list of the worst U.S. cities for mosquitoes

The pest control company releases its annual ranking of “America’s Top 50 Mosquito Cities.” San Antonio listed at No. 38, dropping 11 spots from its 2020 ranking. 

You can typically expect to have itchy ankles and angry red welts year-round. However, you have a higher chance of being bitten during mosquito season, which starts slowly in the spring, peaks in the summer and tapers off into fall. 

It's mosquito season, and the wet spring means bigger, more aggressive biters are out in force.

It’s mosquito season, and the wet spring means bigger, more aggressive biters are out in force.

Pin Lim/For the Chronicle

There are three categories of mosquitoes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those categories tend to come in waves and include the types of mosquitoes that like to lay eggs in tires, buckets and trash cans. They’re called container mosquitoes and they can lay eggs in a dry container before it rains, gluing their eggs just above the waterline.

Another category are the ones that carry diseases such as the West Nile virus. These mosquitoes prefer dirty, stagnant water. They often emerge as water recedes and dry summer conditions set in. 

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Last month, Bexar County officials reported that a pool of mosquitoes collected by one of its monitoring stations in Northeast Bexar County tested positive for West Nile. 

Lara said that recent rains followed by this hot, dry period has created ideal conditions for all types of mosquitoes.

One of the most important things you can do is remove standing water around your home, which is a main source of mosquito development. Regularly dump vases, pet water bowls, flower pot saucers, buckets and trash cans. 

Many of the tires were full of water and breeding mosquitoes.

Many of the tires were full of water and breeding mosquitoes.

David Taylor

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“It doesn’t take much water, either,” Lara said. “We have found larvae in caps of soda water bottles.” 

There are four stages of the life cycle of mosquitoes; three of them are in water, Lara said. 

Incidentally, it’s the females who are the “biters” although they don’t have teeth. Instead, they use a long tubular mouthpiece called a proboscis. It has a serrated edge to pierce a person’s skin. “They take a blood meal and use it for egg development,” Lara said.

For those who wonder why they are often the first ones in a group to be bitten, it comes down to chemistry, Lara said.

“There’s a lot of theory about this, but it has to do with body odor, sweat and carbon dioxide levels. Mosquitoes sense it and gravitate toward it,” he said. 

How can I avoid becoming a mosquitoes’ dinner? 

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts, pants and socks to protect exposed skin during dusk and dawn, which is when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Avoid use of perfumes and colognes when working outdoors.
  • Use air conditioning or make sure there are screens on all doors and windows to keep mosquitoes from entering your home.
  • Use an insect repellent that is EPA registered and always follow the label’s directions.
  • Choose a repellent that provides protection for the length of time you will be outdoors. The more active ingredient a repellent contains, the longer the time the repellent will be effective.
  • Spray insect repellent on the outside of your clothes. Mosquitoes can bite through thin clothing.
  • Do not spray insect repellent on skin that is under clothing.
  • Insect repellents should not be used on young infants.
  • Do not spray aerosol or pump products in enclosed areas or directly on your face. Avoid getting insect repellent in your eyes or mouth, as well as cuts, wounds or irritated skin.
  • If working outdoors, use soap and water to wash skin and clothing that has been treated with insect repellent

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