HILLSBOROUGH – While Sunday’s heavy rains were a major disruption for many in Chapel Hill, one local community is pleased by the change in the weather: mosquitoes.
Charles Apperson, professor emeritus of entomology at N.C.State, says that mosquito eggs need water to hatch and these eggs may already be planted all around.
“Mosquitoes can lay eggs that are dormant and wait to be flooded,” Apperson says. “When you flood those areas and submerge eggs, they hatch.”
Apperson says one very effective way of cutting down on mosquito populations after a rainstorm is to get rid of standing water around the home.
“The ones that are produced around our homes, the Asian Tiger Mosquito, can go through their life cycle in five-to-seven days,” Apperson says. “So, after a rain, go around the yard and empty out everything you can that you find that contains water.”
Stacy Shelp, public information officer for the Orange County Health Department, adds that bacterial insecticides known as “dunks” can be used in hard-to-drain places like flower pots or gutters that still contain standing water.
“The good thing about those is that they are bacteria so they don’t harm fish or birds or other wildlife,” Shelp says. “They last about 30 days to control the mosquito larvae.”
Apperson says that even if someone totally clears a yard of water for mosquitoes to hatch in, if a neighbor does not do the same, mosquitoes that hatch over there can still spread to other yards and homes.
While the Orange County Health Department is urging residents to take precautions to avoid mosquito infestations, Apperson says that any health risk from mosquitoes is unlikely.
“These mosquito transmitted diseases are very rare diseases,” Apperson says. “Mosquitoes are mainly a nuisance.”
Apperson cautions that this does not mean residents should be negligent when clearing their yards of mosquitoes.
“It’s a numbers game,” Apperson says. “The more people that are bitten, the odds increase that someone will be bitten by a mosquito that contains a pathogen.”
Orange County officials like Shelp point out that these mosquito prevention tips should be put into place after all rainstorms, not just the flood-inducing ones seen last week.