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Bug Report: Mosquitoes

MosquitoesNowadays when people hear the word "mosquitoes," something else usually comes to mind: West Nile Virus. That's because mosquitoes are the only biting flies in Canada that can transmit disease to humans, including West Nile Virus.

People can get West Nile Virus after being bitten by an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes can become infected after feeding on the blood of certain birds that carry the virus.

While the risks of being bitten by an infected mosquito are low and the chances of becoming seriously ill are even lower, anyone who is exposed to mosquitoes in an area that has West Nile Virus has the potential to become infected.

Mosquitoes are found in nearly every part of Canada from early spring until late summer, sometimes sticking around throughout early fall. They can be seen flying around during the day and at night, unlike some other flies that prefer daytime to nighttime or vice versa.

If you enjoy the tranquility of the woods at daybreak or when the sun is going down, just be sure to spray yourself well with bug repellent in advance. And then spray some more. Long pants, long sleeves and a hat are also a good idea. Swarms of mosquitoes like to gather in clearings to mate during these times of the day.

One of the most startling things about mosquitoes is that they require as little as a spoonful of standing water to develop, which is why it's so important to remove as much standing water from around your home as possible to prevent large outbreaks. You can do this by:

  • Regularly draining standing water from items such as pool covers, saucers under flowerpots, recycle bins, garbage cans, etc.
  • Removing old unused items from around your property including old tires, which have a tendency to collect water.
  • Changing the water in wading pools, bird baths, pet bowls and livestock watering tanks twice a week.
  • Covering rain barrels with screens.
  • Cleaning out eaves troughs regularly to prevent clogs that can trap water.
  • Getting fish that will eat mosquito larvae if you have an ornamental pond.

Still, there's little that can prevent large outbreaks during summers with heavy rainfall. During such periods, mosquito numbers can become unbelievably abundant, and Southern Canada, particularly the Prairies, can be severely affected.

Quite surprisingly though, bug experts refer to Churchill, Manitoba as the worst place in the world for mosquitoes. Here they breed in enormous numbers, estimated at 12.5 million to the hectare. The area's fierce wind and cold are evidently no match for the flies.

Some information courtesy of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

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