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What Feels Like A Lot Of Mosquitoes Is Just Getting Back To Normal, Experts Say

Felipe Dana
Associated Press
Mosquitoes in a petri dish in Brazil in Sept. 2016.

It may feel like the number of mosquitoes in Maine this year is way up, but it’s just getting back to normal.

Maine Medical Center vector ecologist Chuck Lubelczyk says the dry weather over the last two summers led to an unusually low number of mosquitoes, but this year is more normal and the population is rebounding.

Lubelczyk says they’re a particular problem on the coast, where this year’s very high lunar tides have flooded salt marshes and created a mosquito baby boom.

“And then what happens is [salt marsh mosquitoes’ eggs] can actually stay active, even unhatched, for a few years. So when you get a particularly high tide it washes up and stirs up all these eggs that are kind of being held in reserve, on these salt marshes, which then results in a fairly high birthing. So you end up having a high crop of mosquitoes following these tides,” he says.

Credit Wikimedia Commons
Salt Marsh at Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge in Wells, Maine. The population of salt marsh mosquitoes in Maine has increased dramatically due to very high lunar tides which fill the marshes with standing water.

Lubelczyk also says salt marsh mosquitoes are avid mammal biters, and aren’t picky about whether they bite during the day or at night.

He says, as always, experts recommend using bug repellent and wearing long sleeves and long pants, even taking the “very fashionable trend of wearing a head net. If they’re out in an area where they’re recreating and they’re getting a lot of mosquito nets, certainly a head net can help protect your head and neck from being bitten as well.”

Lubelczyk says there are some worries about mosquito-borne illnesses appearing later in the summer, but it’s too early to know.

“I think this year because of all the rain we’re seeing and the kind of rebounding of mosquito numbers, we’re kind of worried we might see something by August or September,” he says.

Mosquitoes in Maine can carry Eastern equine encephalitis and West Nile virus. They primarily affect animals, although they have been reported in humans as well.

This story was originally published on July 5 at 2:50 p.m. ET.