Warmer days across San Diego County mean mosquitoes are starting to make their presence known and the insects may find your backyard – and any little pocket of stagnant water – an especially comfortable place to breed this season.
“Even the small little sources that show up in backyards can produce a lot of mosquitoes when you add it all up,” Chris Conlan, Supervising Vector Ecologist for the County of San Diego Department of Environmental Health, said.
“The bottom line is anything that can hold water for a week or longer is a potential mosquito breeding source – whether it’s that saucer under your plants, an old bucket, kids toys that are getting filled up every time the sprinklers go off – the list is endless, really.”
Conlan, along with San Diego County Supervisor Greg Cox and other environmental health officials, held a news briefing Tuesday to remind locals to protect themselves against mosquitoes and mosquito-borne illnesses.
According to Conlan, in San Diego County, mosquito season is really year-round due to the mild climate. However, he said its peak is April through October.
Conlan said the county’s vector control department closely monitors mosquito populations across the region and, already, they can see mosquito populations are on the rise. Those populations will only increase as the weather gets warmer and spring turns into summer.
On Wednesday, vector control officials will begin conducting larvicide drops by helicopter over thick, swampy areas. Conlan said officials will continue those treatments every three to four weeks over the course of the summer.
In the meantime, officials said there’s a lot that locals can do in their own backyards to prevent mosquitos from breeding. The insects are attracted to standing water and could even breed in something as little as a bottle cap filled with water.
Conlan said San Diegans should scour their yards for any traces of stagnant water and dump all of that water out.
“Flowing water doesn’t bring mosquitoes,” he added.
Mosquitos can carry a number of potentially deadly diseases that can be transmitted to people, including West Nile Virus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, West Nile Virus is the leading cause of mosquito-borne disease in the United States. It is most commonly spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito.
So far this year, Conlan said only one bird in San Diego County has tested positive for West Nile Virus. Thus far, there are no local cases of humans contracting the disease.
Last year, a 91-year-old San Diego man was hospitalized after being bitten by a mosquito infected with West Nile Virus. He survived. The CDC said about one in 150 infected with West Nile Virus develops serious, sometimes deadly, illness. There are no vaccines to prevent the virus or medications to treat the disease in humans.
Conlan said vector control monitors for West Nile Virus in San Diego through the testing of dead birds. Anyone who sees a dead bird in the region can call the county’s vector control office at (858) 694-2888 to report the dead bird; officials may be able to pick it up and test it for the virus.
The county’s campaign during mosquito season is fittingly dubbed “Fight the Bite.” You can learn all about mosquitoes as they pertain to our county here.
In addition to getting rid of standing water around one’s home, Conlan said locals who have ponds, fountains or birdbaths in their yards can get something called “mosquito fish,” for free, from the county. Mosquito fish are small, freshwater fish that eat mosquito larvae. They can be picked up at different locations around San Diego.
Of course, insect repellents are also good tools against mosquitoes.
According to the San Diego County Department of Environmental Health, there are 27 types of mosquitoes in San Diego County and at least nine of those types are known to carry diseases that can be passed to humans. Native Culex mosquitoes are likely to bite during dawn and dusk.