Mosquito mystery: Where are they?
So, how was your mosquito summer? Mine wasn't too bad and neither was this viewer's:
Hi, Frank -
We live right outside 610 West Loop and saw practically no mosquitos this summer. Was this true for most everyone? Or maybe we just didn't notice?
Maureen & Toby
At first, I thought maybe the mosquitoes were becoming lunch for these guys:
The invasive brown anole lizard (I bet you haven't seen many of our native Green Anoles lately, have you?). These Caribbean interlopers are taking over, but their diet isn't really mosquitoes (lots of spiders, though, and I haven't seen many of those around). There is a terrific article in Texas Monthly on these lizards and their invasion right here.
So if the mosquitoes aren't being eaten, maybe they just aren't being bred? It takes standing water and notice the Drought Monitor:
The U.S. Drought Monitor is jointly produced by the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Map courtesy of NDMC.
Up until Imelda in September, we were very dry in July and August. In fact, look at this chart below which I've highlighted:
At the beginning of this year there was virtually NO drought across Texas. Even until July there were only minor issues with almost 90% of the state being drought free. Then we jumped to only 38% of the state being drought free in the latest monitor! Obviously, less standing water means fewer mosquitoes.
If you track the incidents in YELLOW of West Nile Virus, which is mosquito-born, this year there have been only a few cases and the last I've seen reported was in June:
Harris County Public Health
Certainly, not a widespread outbreak. So, maybe a few lizards are changing their diet, the summer was dry for the most part and let's not forget good old-fashioned spraying from Mosquito Control in the different areas. I have no idea how to quantify personal mosquito misters and their effectiveness is still being studied, but I'd imagine that is part of the equation.
Interestingly, speaking of spraying, Bellaire has stopped fogging for mosquitoes this year due to an increased number of complaints regarding Bee deaths. They want to study that issue and make sure they aren't harming any other insects. My friend Charlotte Aguilar wrote this up in an article here.
I've reached out to Harris County Public Health PIO Eddie Miranda to ask his take on where the Mosquitoes went this summer (and, who knows, maybe you've been under evening attack all year?). I'll edit this blog when I hear back from him and let you know. In the meantime, email me your opinion. More mosquitoes or less?
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