With the gift of summer-like temperatures in April comes Saskatchewan’s most despised summer pest – the mosquito.
Yes, mosquitoes are back and biting, but only in small numbers, according to Saskatchewan entomologist and West Nile coordinator Phil Curry.
“There are a few mosquitoes out at this time, a few of our species actually over-winter as adult mosquitoes,” he explained.
“Actually with that warm weather that we had several weeks ago, I was working in my barn and a few of the mosquitoes did come out and start to try and bite me.”
Curry said the culex tarsalis mosquito that carries West Nile virus is one of the few species that hibernates through the winter.
“Fortunately the numbers are very low and so we don’t catch them in our traps very much in the spring, but they’ll come out and start biting and laying eggs for the next generation. So we usually start to see their population start to build up in June and July,” Curry said. “So they’re out now but they’re in very low numbers.”
He said the cycle of West Nile virus in mosquitoes and birds also won’t likely pick up until mid-summer, so the risk is quite low right now.
While April might sound early for mosquitoes to be out in Saskatchewan, Curry said this is a normal start to the season. If there are many warm nights and days through the spring, that could add up to more mosquitoes on the hunt in Saskatchewan. The good news is that they also need standing water which is in short supply this year.
“So right now there’s not a lot of run-off, there wasn’t a lot of snow in southern Saskatchewan, so we may not see a lot of mosquitoes this year,” he said. “But it’s very much weather dependent and I don’t predict the weather, so it’s hard to tell.”
When asked about the risk of Zika virus, Curry said the mosquito that carries that virus is still not found in Canada. However, there is research underway in Ontario to determine if any other type of mosquito present in Canada may be able to carry the virus.