Soggy spring could lead to abundance of mosquitoes

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Recent heavy rains throughout April and the start of May could have greater consequences than soggy backyards.

The Erie County commissioner of health warned Wednesday that saturated soil and abundant standing water, as well as rising overnight temperatures, could lead to a significant mosquito increase.

The National Weather Service recorded a monthly precipitation record of 6.38″ of rain for April, making it the wettest April on record. The rainfall has caused an excessive amount of standing water throughout Erie County, the health commissioner’s office said.

Standing water leads to mosquito breeding. One small bottle cap full of water can result in hundreds of mosquitoes.

Residents are asked to help prevent mosquito population growth- and the subsequent spread of the West Nile virus- by eliminating their places to breed and lay eggs.

The health commissioner’s office recommends checking your yards on a regular basis and removing any temporary pools of water, especially when dirty or stagnant. This can be done by clearing debris from gutters or ditches, cutting small channels to help drain pooling water, filling in holes and tire ruts with dirt, draining water from pool covers, in garden pots and children’s pools, and by treating rain barrels.

Erie County has not had a confirmed case of West Nile virus since 2012, but the department still wants to minimize the risk of mosquito-borne diseases, Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein said.

The department is also concerned about stagnant, non-maintained pools in Erie County, especially belonging to homes in the foreclosure process, said senior public health sanitarian Peter Tripi.

“One neglected and untended swimming pool can infest an entire neighborhood with mosquitoes,” Tripi said.

To report a “zombie” home with an untended swimming pool or other stagnant water, report it to Erie County’s Division of Environmental Health by calling (716)961-6800.

To avoid exposure to the West Nile virus, it’s also recommended to wear insect repellent containing 25 percent DEET, to wear protective clothing at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active, and to install or repair window screens to reduce the risk.

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