Mosquito/tick season off to a slower start in northwest Ohio
Late frost, below-average rain keeping larger mosquito swarms at bay for now; ticks now emerging
TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - We’re only a week removed from frost concerns in northwest Ohio, with below-average rain to show for spring so far. That’s meant even the usual buzzing mosquitoes are having a tough time emerging in full force yet this season... not that it’s bad news for most people.
“When we have had rain, it’s been mild enough that it’s been able to soak into the ground quickly, and hasn’t really pooled for the time period needed for the mosquitoes to mature and develop,” says Paul Bauman, biologist/general manager at Toledo Area Sanitary District. “We’ve been conducting adult mosquito surveillance for a couple of weeks now, and we’re just not catching many mosquitoes at all -- the population is very low.”
Bauman explains their methodology: “We have a network of traps throughout Lucas County, and we run about 60 on any given night. We collect them, count how many and what species, and check if they’re of any concern for transmitting disease. A light trap in the city may not have a lot of mosquitoes with competing lights... but take that same trap and put it in Oak Openings, and you could get 10x the amount yet still say ‘it’s not that bad’.”
Bauman says most mosquitoes will survive the winter as eggs, though a few adults will find microclimates where it doesn’t reach freezing, like a basement or sewer -- or in nature, a cave or tree log to provide shelter. “They come out and they’re hungry for a blood source that the female uses to produce the eggs... so far, though, it’s been cool out there at night. We do need consistent nighttime temperatures of 60° or above, so we won’t be out spraying if it’s still cold. This type of weather would be very conducive to spraying for adult mosquitoes... if we had a population we were worried about at this point.”
A certain type of mosquito more likely to carry West Nile Virus can thrive in hotter, drier years, though there’s plenty of room for change in the weather. “We don’t have to worry too much about nuisance mosquitoes right now -- great for going outdoors,” Bauman encourages, “but as the season progresses, we’ll really have to monitor for disease.”
Toledo-Lucas County Health Commissioner Dr. Eric Zgodzinski has a few common-sense tips: “Make sure you don’t have standing water, your screens are intact, and that you’re wearing mosquito repellent. There are a number of them on the market, though I use the ones with DEET.”
Long sleeves and jeans are a tougher sell in the summertime to offer protection against pests, though it can prove more effective against another annoying critter: ticks, which are seemingly making up for lost time now with multiple reports across the county.
“Large-scale community control is not really an option with ticks -- even with mosquitoes, we’re involved with control, not eradication,” observes Bauman. “It’s more about personal protection for people, being aware that they’re out in places where they might encounter ticks, wearing long pants and repellent on their clothing, and doing a thorough tick check on themselves afterward.”
The health commissioner adds that northwest Ohio ticks can carry Lyme disease, though occurrence has been low even with more people getting outside during the pandemic -- just 1 confirmed case and 2 probable cases last year in Lucas County. Still, some dogs and humans are already tracking them into the house, and a quick tick check is always prudent. “I was out and about a little bit over the weekend in some high-grass areas and found a couple of ticks on me, so they’re out there,” says Dr. Zgodzinski. “If it latches onto your skin, don’t squish it or try to squeeze it... take the tweezers and pull it up. If you do squeeze it, any bacteria or disease that could be in that tick, could go into that wound then.”
For a check of mosquito nuisance and nighttime spraying schedule in Lucas County, visit their revamped website at ToledoMosquito.org.
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