May 25, 2011

Weeks of flooding in Western Kentucky have resulted in an extremely large number of mosquitoes in the area.

Of the 59 mosquito species in the state, the vast majority of the mosquitoes in the area are inland floodwater mosquitoes, said Grayson Brown, entomologist in the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture. They are one of the top two mosquito species that will bite humans, most likely at dusk or right after dark.

“Inland floodwater mosquitoes will bite any ground-dwelling mammal, but they are primarily a nuisance biter. They currently don’t transmit many diseases in Kentucky,” Brown said. “However, they are a big issue for dog owners because they can transmit canine heartworm.”

Brown said some areas of Western Kentucky are reporting 20 mosquito bites a minute, which is well above treatment thresholds.

In the western part of the state, these mosquitoes are annual, significant pests that produce multiple generations each year, but their populations have exploded due to the floodwaters.

“The flooding has put water in unusual places, such as abandoned houses or the trunks of trees that have fallen over,” Brown said. “We will probably be battling mosquitoes throughout the entire summer.”  

People can avoid mosquitoes by staying indoors when the insects are most active, wearing light-colored, long-sleeved clothing and by using insect repellent. If local mosquito populations can be traced to a specific location, such as an abandoned building, individuals should contact their county health department to help them identify those locations and eradicate the mosquitoes.