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What will Calgary’s mosquito season be like? It all comes down to rain

Click to play video: 'Forecasting Calgary’s mosquito season' Forecasting Calgary’s mosquito season
WATCH: Mosquito experts in Calgary say that even though a dry and cool spring may lead to fewer pests this summer, there’s still reason to protect yourself from getting bit. Matthew Conrod reports – May 11, 2021

While it hasn’t necessarily always felt like spring in Calgary over the last couple of months, this is normally the time of year when mosquitoes can start to become more active ahead of the warmer days of summer.

Mosquito experts in Calgary say the type of weather that hits the region in early to late May and June is normally an indicator of how prevalent the buzzing bloodsuckers will be during the summer.

Read more: Edmonton city council reinstates aerial mosquito control program

Warm temperatures combined with lots of moisture create ideal breeding environments for mosquitoes, but that’s just not something that has been happening too often this spring.

Following low levels of precipitation in April, May is off to an equally slow start.

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“Unless we basically have the great flood again, May is going to be half the normal precipitation,” said University of Calgary entomologist John Swann on Tuesday.

Even if May doesn’t reach flood-like levels of rain, a late splashing like the one in 2020 could make a difference in terms of how many pests we’re all trying to swat away come summer.

“In late May, we got a ton of really heavy rainfall, so that’s when we started to see a lot of mosquitoes,” said Alex Pepperdine, an integrated pest management technician with the City of Calgary.

“If we get that situation again this year, a good amount of rainfall and warm temperatures, then we will see a lot of mosquitoes.”

Read more: Can mosquitoes spread COVID-19? Dr. Hinshaw weighs in

According to Swann, regardless of mosquito prevalence, the West Nile virus is always a concern.

“You can have a bad West Nile year where there aren’t many mosquitoes and vice versa. You can have a lot of mosquitoes and not bad West Nile,” Swann said.

While the majority of people who contract the virus from a bite won’t suffer from any symptoms, those that do could potentially be in severe discomfort.

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“When it’s bad, it’s ugly,” said Swann. “You’re going to have fevers, aches and there are chances of encephalitis.”

Swann said while Health Canada recommends that bug repellent be worn beginning in April, it’s in June, July and August that it’s most important to wear as that is when the specific species that carry West Nile virus are most active.

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