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Mosquito numbers ‘a little bit up’ in Edmonton; here’s how to reduce bites

What's Edmonton's mosquito forecast this week?.
What's Edmonton's mosquito forecast this week?. Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

The city of Edmonton is seeing slightly elevated numbers of mosquitoes compared to past years but one pest expert said they’re not out of the ordinary.

“Counts for this week are a little bit up from last week,” said Peter Daly, a biological scientist with the city’s pest management lab. “It’s nothing to be crazy concerned about. This is just typical for the season. Nothing that’s completely out to lunch.”

The last time Edmonton recorded mosquito numbers quite this high was back in 2011.

READ MORE: They’re back! Mosquitoes return to Edmonton with a vengeance

“Looking into the averages that we’ve had over the decades that we’ve been tracking it, this is totally normal, perfectly reasonable — which isn’t to say I like getting bitten by mosquitoes more than anyone else.”

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Two things that impact mosquito populations are temperatures and the amount of standing water.

Daly said the hot weather Edmonton has had recently could help fast-track mosquito lifespans.

“Since they’re cold blooded, it accelerates their metabolism. … If it’s very hot and dry out, they burn out a lot faster. They go through their lifespan much, much quicker when it’s hot.

“Unless we have a lot of rain, there’s not going to be a lot more development.”

READ MORE: Edmonton considers ditching particular pesticide used for mosquitoes

Mosquitoes breed in temporary pools of water; not permanent water bodies. So, their development is based primarily on how much standing water a community has.

“If there are little puddles left around after a heavy rainstorm, then we can typically expect to see a fair bit of a jump in mosquito numbers a few weeks after that,” Daly said. “We’re not dealing with that right now, so all signs point towards mosquitoes being alright for the next little while.

“But I don’t like to speculate. Anything can happen. It’s so dependent on the weather.”

Can we do anything to fight mosquitoes?!?

The city started its spray program earlier this spring that targets standing water in rural areas outside Edmonton. So, can you do the same in your own backyard?

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Daly said getting rid of any standing water on your property — like kiddie pools or bird baths — might be OK, but likely wouldn’t make a noticeable difference.

“What is going to make more of a difference is making sure your lawn is well-mowed so that there are fewer places for the mosquitoes to hide during the heat of the day.”

READ MORE: Edmonton mosquitoes hatching a month behind schedule

Daly also suggested limiting outdoor activities to times when this particular kind of mosquito is less active.

“A fairly high proportion of them are ones that are more active in the daytime than other species.

“We don’t have a lot of mosquitoes right now, but the ones that are out there, we notice a lot more,” Daly said.

“They’re going to be a lot more active at dawn and dusk so if you can avoid being active at those times, you’re going to have fewer problems with mosquitoes.”

He also recommends using bug repellent that has DEET as an active ingredient.

The city monitors mosquito numbers with 16 traps across the city from May until September.

This week, staff found about 22 mosquitoes per trap in the inner city locations and about 33 bugs per trap in locations on the outskirts.

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