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Drought makes mosquitoes scarce

Vampires are not the only blood-sucking creatures that seemed more mythical than real this summer.

Monday, September 13, 1999

Vampires are not the only blood-sucking creatures that seemed more mythical than real this summer.

Many Lawrence Countians might have wondered where the mosquitoes that usually plague them went.

With high temperatures and little rain, most area residents didn’t get a chance to swat at the little insects this summer.

"There’s been no water to hatch the mosquitoes out of their eggs," said Charles Kouns, Ironton Health Department administrator.

Being a water-born vector, mosquitoes cannot breed without a stagnant pool of water, Kouns said.

And unless someone lives near a pond, they may not have seen a mosquito since last year. The area has not received enough rain to pool in tires and other containers to serve as breeding grounds for the insects, he said.

"The amount of mosquitoes you have depends on the rainfall and heat," Kouns said. "Mosquito season is from May 15 to Sept. 15. Some years, they are the worst in the first part of September. I’ve seen that happen in the past, but I don’t think we will see that this year."

Area residents are not safe from mosquito bites, yet. If weather trends change, the little pests might still have a chance to come out and play before winter hits, Kouns said.

"If it would turn rainy and the temperatures would stay up in the 70s, we could have some mosquitoes," he said. "They can hatch within four days. Depending on whether or not they have optimum conditions, it only takes 72 hours for them to become an adult mosquito."

And no one should underestimate the power of a mosquito bite, Kouns added.

Mosquito victims might suffer from more than an occasional itch, he said.

"Mosquitoes can carry encephalitis," Kouns said. "Encephalitis is a sleeping sickness. People who have it start off with headaches, a fever of 102 to 106 degrees, and sometimes there is a lot of vomiting. It’s also a sleeping sickness, which means you sleep a lot. You could sleep and not come out of it."

Although no cases of encephalitis have been reported in Lawrence County, one Scioto County resident did contract the disease last year, Kouns said.

And Scioto County is not that far away when you consider that a mosquito can travel 2 1/2 miles and will continue to infect other mosquitoes along the way, he said.

Although the mosquito season has been light this year, the city health department has sprayed twice for the insects, Kouns said.

"If we killed one mosquito that had encephalitis we will consider ourselves very lucky," he said.

To prevent any possible mosquito growth, people should empty and invert any containers around their houses that could catch water, Kouns said.

"And make sure there isn’t any water in any spare tires, especially," he said "Spare tires provide the optimum conditions for mosquito breeding. They hold water and the heat in."

Once mosquitoes are hatched, Kouns recommends spraying with an adulticide.