Across Florida near Vero Beach, Roxanne Connelly said there have been some days this month when she just wouldn’t go in the backyard. It’s been too bad even for her — and she’s a mosquito researcher at the University of Florida and head of the mosquito association.
Many communities fight back by spraying pesticides, but mosquitoes are starting to win that battle, too, developing resistance to these chemicals. Soon many places could be out of effective weapons, Connelly and other mosquito-fighters said.
Miller, who teaches environmental sciences, said he normally would oppose spraying but has been lobbying for the county to break out the pesticides this year. The county told him there was no money in the budget and recommended he hire a private pest control business, he said.
The type that buzzed his daughter — the Asian tiger mosquito, named for its striped body — hit the U.S. a quarter-century ago in a batch of imported scrap tires in Houston and eventually spread to the Northeast, the Midwest and, in 2011, the Los Angeles area.
Climate change is also likely to worsen mosquito problems in general because the insects tend to do better in the hotter weather that experts forecast, said Chet Moore, a professor of medical entomology at Colorado State University.
Mosquitoes, of course, can be more than a nuisance: They can spread diseases. In the U.S., the biggest mosquito-borne threat is West Nile virus. Last year, there were a record 286 West Nile deaths, but this year appears to be milder. Worldwide outside the United States, mosquito-borne diseases kill far more people than sharks, snakes and bears combined, with more than 600,000 deaths from malaria each year in poorer countries.
People should wear light-colored clothing — dark colors attract mosquitoes — long pants and long sleeves; get rid of standing water, where mosquitoes breed; and use repellents with the chemical DEET, experts said.
But even those substances may not work for long.
Mosquitoes could be developing resistance to repellents as well as insecticides, said mosquito researcher James Logan at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
“It’s an arms race,” he said. “I always think they are one step ahead of us.”