Rainfall totals in May and June of 2018 rank second on record for the period. In fact, over 15 inches of rain was received during this period at O’Hare International Airport, and the western Rockford area received over 14 inches in June – the most ever in its history. The record rains and extreme temperature spikes have created perfect conditions for mosquito breeding, and triggered the hatching of ten (10) floodwater mosquito (Aedes vexans) broods.
Most mosquito control service businesses across the state are working around the clock to help manage populations, but are fighting an uphill battle. From Clarke’s perspective, our surveillance traps are recording nearly 7,000 female mosquitoes per night at some trap sites, and our operation teams have been working 24/7 to meet our customers’ increased service requirements. To put that in perspective, traps that exceed counts of 30 per night reflect nuisance level populations in the area.
Mosquito-Borne Disease Update
High mosquito populations are not just a nuisance, it’s a matter of public health. At a global level, the mosquito is the most deadly insect on the planet. According to the World Health Organization, mosquito-borne diseases are responsible for more than 1,400 human deaths a day. The U.S. benefits from having the resources, technology and experience to deliver integrated pest management programs to control populations, but diseases like West Nile Virus and Zika are still real public health issues here.
West Nile Virus (WNV)
The northern house mosquito (Culex pipiens) is the primary vector of West Nile Virus. As of June 26, 2018, a total of 23 states across the U.S. have reported West Nile Virus infections in people, birds or mosquitoes. Per the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), 10 of these cases are in people. Specifically in Illinois, 17 Illinois counties have reported WNV activity in mosquitoes so far this year, including Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, McHenry and Will in Northeastern Illinois, and there has been one confirmed human case of WNV, reported on June 21 in Cook County.
In 2016, the continental United States endured a major Zika outbreak, with more than 5,100 travel-related cases nationwide, and 139 locally-transmitted cases in areas of south Florida. By 2017, the number of Zika cases in the U.S. had dramatically reduced, and cases so far in 2018 continue to be very low. According to the CDC, as of June 6, 2018 there have been a total of 20 reported Zika infections in the continental U.S., all of them travel-related, with zero local transmissions.
What can YOU do?
As individuals, you may feel frustrated with the level of mosquitoes in your community. We hear you! While we, and other control providers in the region, work with our district, municipal and residential customers to ramp up service efforts, there are a couple valuable things you can do to mitigate mosquito populations in your own yards, including:
- “Tip and Toss” any standing water. Think bird baths, kiddie pools and toys, flower pots and planters, rain collectors, downspouts, gutters, decorative items – anything that holds water for more than 3 days. These are prime breeding areas for mosquitoes. As simple as this sounds, it goes a long way towards Fighting the Bite and will make a big difference in your own yards.
- Do follow the CDC’s recommendations when you go outside – use repellent, wear long sleeves and pants, and stay inside during peak mosquito hours – dusk and dawn, primarily. Go here for those full guidelines and other good tips.