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Entomologists predict Amarillo will see the worst mosquito season in years, city preparing

Updated: Jun. 21, 2021 at 6:52 AM CDT
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - Experts say an increase in rain and humidity across the Texas Panhandle is creating the perfect recipe for the highest mosquito population we’ve seen in years.

“There are years we get a heavy load of mosquitoes but this year seems to be over the normal amount, and that’s across the entire state,” explained Dr. Sonja Swiger, entomologist at Texas A&M AgriLife.

The City of Amarillo says they have already seen an increase in mosquito populations and are spraying moisture dense areas.

“We’re already seeing an increase in mosquitoes,” said Anthony Spanel, Environmental Health Director for the City of Amarillo. “The rain we’ve experienced in our area the last month and month in a half we see a of of areas with sitting water. Water is where mosquitoes like to lay their eggs and grow, so were seeing tons out there.”

According to Texas A&M AgriLife, when mosquitoes lay their eggs, water is required to turn them into larva and for the larva to grow.

More rain this spring allowed water to get into places it normally doesn’t, reaching more mosquito eggs.

“All that standing water now is making all these mosquitoes grow because the eggs were already out there, sitting in the grass, waiting for the rain and the rain finally showed up” explained Dr. Swiger. “Water is the only place that larva can grow and that’s why water is so important in this situation. When there’s no water, larva can never grow so when we get the water, larva starts to develop. But the adult is a non-aquatic phase, so obviously it emerges and then it flies.”

The city says they are seeing so many mosquitoes, they have already had to restock on pesticides.

“We are anticipating using a lot more than we prepared for,” said Spanel. “We buy several pounds of pretreatment every year. We have several gallons of liquid larvaside and we basically blew through all of that our first two months.”

Spanel explains the city focuses most of its efforts on preventative methods, chiefly by killing mosquitoes in the larva phase.

“Pretreatment on the larva siting has the highest rate of kill,” he explained. “We do a larva siting method if we see mosquitoes growing and if mosquitoes go into the adult phases, we actually get our fibers out here and treat for adult mosquitoes too.”

While the city is spraying public areas, they urge community members to dump water and spray repellent surrounding their homes to prevent mosquitoes.

However, the Texas Panhandle Poison Center says they are already seeing calls about kids with repellent in their eyes and mouths and warn parents to be careful.

“Look at the label and make sure they’re labeled safe for kids,” explained Ronica Farrar, educator at Texas Panhandle Poison Center at TTUHSC and Jerry H. Hodge School of Pharmacy. “Deet is safe for kids, but you want to use a low concentration. For kids we specifically want to stay away from the face, eyes, mouth, noses... we recommend not putting it on their hands because kids touch their face and mouth.”

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