Number of human-biting mosquitoes in Twin Cities is low ⁠— for now

Do you hear that buzz? It's a mosquito!
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The Metropolitan Mosquito Control District in St. Paul began this year's surveillance of mosquitoes and black flies and found mosquito numbers are low — for now.

After trapping on May 16, the district found a lot of mosquito larvae in ponds and wetlands, but few adult mosquitoes. A map of the seven-country metro showed each trap captured less than 50 human-biting mosquitoes. Each trap is able to capture more than 1,000.

Still, the bites are coming. A video from the district showed a bucket full of mosquito larvae found in Savage last week.

“It requires a certain level of heat throughout the spring before they really emerge en masse and so we really just reached that like, last week. So now we’re starting to see mosquitoes across the district,” district assistant entomologist Scott Larson said.

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Staff are working to knock back mosquito populations. Helicopters have treated nearly 55,000 acres of mosquito habitat in the past two weeks and more action is planned.

Last year, the district reported the Twin Cities saw fewer mosquitoes than usual due to drought, although West Nile Virus was more prevalent than in prior years.

May also is when the metro usually starts to see more biting gnats, also known as black flies. The district said those populations appear at normal levels, with higher numbers in Dakota and Carver counties.

The mosquito control district said it uses the liquid form of a “naturally occurring soil bacteria” in rivers and streams to target and kill only black fly larvae.

A black fly, or buffalo gnat.
A black fly, or buffalo gnat.
Illinois Department of Public Health

The district will set out traps every Monday night through September to monitor mosquitoes and black flies.

To keep mosquitoes in check, people should check their yards for standing water and dump it out, as well as keep grass and shrubs short.

Ticks also are active. June is one of the peak months for transmission of Lyme disease.

“Ticks haven’t been particularly common in the Twin Cities until the last couple of decades and since then we’ve noticed them expanding from the northwest part of the metro into all of the counties in the metro area,” Larson said.

The public can report mosquito, black fly, and tick activity on the Metropolitan Mosquito Control’s website.