Mosquitoes were effectively dormant during this summer’s drought. As rain returns to San Antonio, the pests will re-emerge.
SAN ANTONIO — As San Antonio emerges from historic drought conditions, mosquitoes are again hatching in yards, parks, and pools.
During the dry summer months, the pests couldn’t easily find water to lay eggs in. San Antonio residents didn’t see many of the biting insects during June, when the bugs are normally most active.
“You definitely are seeing more mosquitoes now, mostly because we’ve had rain,” said Megan Wise De Valdez, an associate professor at Texas A&M-San Antonio. “Chances are, you’ve been feeling it because we had such low numbers this summer.”
Wise De Valdez identifies mosquitoes for Bexar County. Lately, she’s spotted a different species of mosquito that hatches during periods of intense rain.
The ‘floodwater’ mosquito deposits its eggs in dirt. Those eggs will not hatch until water settles on top of the deposits, usually during flooding.
This species is larger, more visible, and might seem meaner.
“They feel more aggressive… because they’re not picky,” Wise De Valdez said. “They’ll feed on whatever is nearby.”
Fortunately, the floodwater species is slower and easier to detect. It does not carry disease.
But Bexar County researchers have identified West Nile in other, more common mosquitoes this month. Wise De Valdez says it’s typical to find the disease in sample insects around September, but she added that her team has identified more West Nile this year than in previous years.
Drought may be to blame for any uptick in West Nile transmission, Wise De Valdez added.
“When there are so few water sources, we get all of the mosquitoes in a sort of concentrated area,” along with other animals, she said. This intermingling is how diseases spread from bugs to pets or to people.
“I’d take precautions,” she said. She recommended wearing long-sleeved clothing and closed-toed shoes when outdoors, but acknowledged that that’s not always tenable in the Texas heat.
Bug spray containing DEET is the best way to repel mosquitoes, she said. People may avoid the insects by staying indoors during dawn and dusk hours, too.