Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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Virginia State News

August 20, 2013

Mosquitoes are worse this summer in parts of US

WASHINGTON — The tiny mosquito all too often has man on the run. And this summer, it seems even worse than usual.

“You can’t get from the car to inside our house without getting attacked, it’s that bad,” high school teacher Ryan Miller said from his home in Arlington, Va. Minutes earlier, he saw a mosquito circling his 4-month-old daughter — indoors.

Experts say it’s been a buggier-than-normal summer in many places around the U.S. because of a combination of drought, heavy rain and heat.

It may be worst in the Southeast, which is getting hit with three years’ worth of bugs in one summer, said Jonathan Day, who studies insects at the University of Florida.

Two years of drought were followed by incredibly heavy rain this year. During dry spells, mosquito eggs often didn’t get wet enough to hatch. This year’s rain revived those, along with the normal 2013 batch.

In parts of Connecticut this summer, mosquito traps had double the usual number of bugs. Minnesota traps in July had about triple the 10-year average. And in central California, traps had five times as many of one key species as the recent average.

Humans have been battling the blood-drinking bugs for thousands of years, and despite man’s huge advantages in technology and size, people are not getting the upper hand. Just lots of bites on the hand.

“We have to keep fighting just to hold our own,” said Tom Wilmot, past president of the Mosquito Control Association and a Michigan mosquito control district chief. And in some places, he said, the mosquitoes are winning.

In southwestern Florida around Fort Myers, Lee County mosquito control was getting more than 300 calls per day from residents at times this summer, a much higher count than usual. But the more impressive tally was the number of bugs landing on inspectors’ unprotected legs: more than 100 a minute in some hotspots, said deputy director Shelly Radovan.

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