INDIANAPOLIS – Indianas recent heavy rains have set the stage for an explosion of mosquitoes in the weeks ahead as the bloodsucking insects eggs hatch in waterlogged areas, health officials and entomologists said.
Purdue University professor emeritus of entomology Ralph Williams told the Indianapolis Star that bad mosquito seasons are nothing new in Indiana and theres nothing to panic about yet.
We got a lot of rain, and this will translate into a larger than normal number of mosquitoes, he said. We should start seeing them in the next few weeks.
Williams said that the worst year for mosquitoes was 1975, when an outbreak of St. Louis encephalitis infected more than 300 Indiana residents.
Mosquito eggs can remain dormant for years in dry conditions, such as last summers drought, until they hatch in high waters.
Hey, mosquitoes have been around at least 170 million years, and its not because they are stupid, said Joe Conlon, an entomologist and technical adviser to the American Mosquito Control Association.
A spokesman for the Marion County Health Department said no mosquito advisories have been issued locally, but that the department plans to monitor the situation in the weeks ahead.
Last year, local officials issued a warning that Marion County had so many discarded tires that residents faced an elevated threat of West Nile disease, which is carried by mosquitoes.
Last year, more than 60 Indiana residents were sickened by West Nile, and six died.
Although the heavy rains and ponded water are perfect conditions for millions of mosquito eggs to hatch, health officials said residents can reduce that threat by eliminating the insects potential breeding grounds, such as cleaning out clogged gutters and checking for water trapped in canvas or plastic tarps.