The City of Lubbock’s Vector Control has seen a spike of mosquitoes in recent weeks in what has otherwise been a relatively mild mosquito season
Wayne Gellido, entomologist for the city of Lubbock explained that floodwater mosquitoes are the most common type the city has found in their traps, and that Lubbock residents may have noticed more bites from these mosquitoes in the past few weeks.
“People are getting bit a lot more than they’re used to, or than in weeks prior,” explained Robert Lopez Jr. Vector Control Coordinator City of Lubbock. He said this spike occurred over the past month as a result of recent rains and weather patterns.
“Our calls [for Vector Control Assistance] have increased due to he fact that we’ve had a lot more mosquitoes and it’s been harder for us to actually go out and spray because in the mornings it’s too cool and in the afternoons it’s too windy, so we do have to follow the rules and regulations about a chemical being sprayed,” Lopez said.
But he explained that while this is an upward trend relative to the rest of this year, the overall numbers of mosquitoes Vector Control has found are significantly lower than last year. So far for this mosquito season, Vector Control has documented 20,339 mosquitoes. Lopez said that in the 2015 mosquito season which ended in October of that year, the city documented around 82,000 mosquitoes.
Lopez attributes those lower numbers to both environmental factors and to efforts by his department to begin treating before mosquito-related dangers emerge.
Along with the lower total number of mosquitoes this year, the city is seeing a lower number of diseases tied to mosquitoes.
In Lubbock County in 2016 there has been one case of Zika virus, that case was travel related.
“We’ve actually seen fewer cases of mosquito borne diseases, part of that is probably environmental, I’d like to think that some of that is individuals listening to our messaging ensuring they are following those suggestions we make, to avoid dusk and dawn, to dump standing water, to wear the mosquito repellent,” explained Katherine Wells, director of Public Health for the City of Lubbock.
Wells added that despite these lower numbers, health officials in Lubbock will have to remain on alert for the Zika virus for the foreseeable future. While no mosquitoes in Lubbock have tested positive for Zika, the type of mosquitoes which can carry Zika are found in the Lubbock area.
“It’s something that’s gonna be here for the future, I think we’re always gonna have Zika unless they are able to develop a vaccine or somehow keep it from being spread in the mosquitoes,” she said.
Steve Presley Ph.D. Director of Texas Tech’s Biological Threat Research Lab tests mosquitoes from the city of Lubbock for viruses, Presley said Wednesday that there have been three pools of mosquitoes which have tested positive for West Nile virus in Lubbock in the past few weeks.
Until the first freeze arrives and mosquitoes begin dying off, vector control will continue spraying and treating lakes around Lubbock to help cut down on mosquito numbers.
Lopez is asking Lubbock residents to be patient while Vector Control responds to this recent spike in mosquito calls.
“We’re trying to get to every single complaint that we get and we’re trying to still blanket the city [with mosquito control measures],” he said.
For the rest of the mosquito season, Lopez encourages the public to prevent mosquito exposure around their own homes by dumping standing water and using mosquito repellent.