Swatters at the ready! Mosquito season has officially started.
As if the floodwaters in many parts of Minnesota weren't enough for the week, the rains have also brought another familiar plague — mosquitoes.
The pesky pests generally hatch in the beginning of summer, after bouts of rain submerge their eggs in water and trigger the hatching process.
And over the past week, the mosquitoes got all the water they need.
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The Metropolitan Mosquito Control District (MMCD) estimates that mosquitoes will be swarming in the coming days, as the larvae hatch and develop into adults. But all is not lost: the MMCD is rising to the challenge of mosquito control, and they have a few tricks up their sleeve.
Mike McLean, communications coordinator at the MMCD, said that the wave of mosquitoes will be tough, but not impossible, to manage. One of the ways they control the bug population is larval control.
"Larval control of mosquitoes, or controlling them while they're still in the water, has been our mainstay for quite a while," he said.
The type of larval control that the MMCD is deploying now involves bacteria, more specifically the BTI strain of bacteria, which is unique to the mosquito's biology. The bacterium is embedded in granules that are scattered in bodies of water for the larvae to consume. They are working with a helicopter service to airdrop the bacteria on bodies of water exceeding three acres. For smaller areas, ground crews will walk and scatter the granules by hand.
"We put that in the water, the mosquito larvae gobble it up, and it kills them," McLean said. "While they are in the larval stage, they're vulnerable, because they'll eat anything."
McLean said while the BTI bacterium is lethal to mosquitoes, it is harmless to humans, animals and other insects.
"The good thing about it is that it really doesn't have what we call 'non-target effects' ... so unless you're a mosquito, the bacterium itself is not going to have an effect on you."
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McLean also encourages the public to look in and around their homes for stagnant water, as they can become breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
"Look for water that's been sitting for at least a week; odds are you'll see some mosquitoes wriggling around in there," he said.
Stay vigilant. Minnesota needs your help fighting the mosquito menace.