Recent warm weather and heavy rains have given mosquitoes a head start on summer, UK scientists say. Thanks to the weather, mosquitoes are appearing earlier than normal this year, and UK entomologists are encouraging Kentuckians to take precautions to prevent mosquito bites on themselves and their families.
Mosquito bites can cause skin irritation in the form of itchy, red bumps at the location of the bites, and the insects can also spread harmful diseases like Zika, West Nile virus and others.
Mosquitoes’ early arrival
This past week, UK entomologists captured Asian tiger mosquitoes in Central Kentucky. These mosquitoes normally appear in this area in mid-June, and populations begin to climb throughout the summer, peaking in late July and early August. The mosquitoes tend to arrive in Western Kentucky a little earlier and appear in Eastern Kentucky a little later than in Central Kentucky.
This Asian tiger mosquito is responsible for 85 percent of the bites Kentuckians receive.
“The Asian tiger mosquito is opportunistic; it feeds on several species of animals in addition to humans,” said Lee Townsend, UK extension entomologist. “It tends to bite humans around the ankles, an area that is often overlooked when applying repellents.”
Tips for protection
Take the following measures to protect yourself and loved ones this summer:
- Use Environmental Protection Agency-registered insect repellents.
- Drain any standing water, as it is a potential breeding site for mosquitoes. This includes bird baths, bottles and any other items with water-holding capacity like old tires or trash.
- Fill in holes, depressions and puddles in yards.
- Keep gutters in proper working order.
- Make sure door and window screens are in good condition.
- Stay indoors between 4 and 8 p.m. when mosquitoes are most active.
- Wear pants and long-sleeve shirts when outdoors.