Metro to test mosquitoes for West Nile Virus

Metro to test mosquitoes for West Nile Virus (Image 1)

Mosquito season is here.  The biting insects are already hatching in low-lying waters.

In Metro Nashville Davidson County, the local health department is trying to get an early handle on the numbers because of the warmer winter.  

“We've had a lot of warm, wet weather, and when you have that, you're going to have mosquitoes,” said Metro Health Department spokesman Brian Todd.

He continued, “We started about a month early, and anytime you have warm weather for a month longer than you typically would, that allows the mosquitoes to grow another population. So we would expect in the spring to have more problems with mosquitoes.”

Crews are out everyday, using larvicide to kill hatching insects.  In the next week, traps will be set in known mosquito problem areas.  Early on, the numbers are expected to be high.

“When we start trapping in May and go through May, we'll set a trap and it's not unusual to find 600 mosquitoes in one trap in one night,” Todd said, adding, “We have places that are historically problem areas for mosquitoes, so they are already out looking for standing water.”

The hotter, drier summer months will offer some relief.

“Once it starts to dry up, let's say late July or early August, that same area, we'll do the same trapping, we might find a handful of mosquitoes. So there is a big difference really in how the weather can impact the population,” Todd said.

Over the course of the summer, the trapped insects will be identified and then tested for West Nile Virus.  The potentially deadly virus is spread by mosquitoes.  Last year, at least one death and 14 illnesses caused by West Nile Virus were documented in Tennessee.

The larvicide and testing have been found to be the best method for mosquito control. In the past, Metro Health Department sprayed neighborhoods, but the spraying proved to be ineffective.  Spray would only be used in case of a West Nile Virus outbreak.

According to department, the best thing you can do to keep mosquitoes away is to get rid of standing water around your home. Stagnant water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes and can be found in any open outdoor container including birdbaths, dog bowls, planters, gutters, even toys and old tires.

To keep the bugs from biting, experts say to use bug spray and wear long sleeves and pants, especially if working or playing in heavily wooded areas or in the early morning or early evening hours when mosquitoes are most active.

Metro Health Department crews will continue to put out larvicide and test for West Nile Virus through the first frost in the fall.

A Backyard Inspection Day is planned for Saturday, May 5 from 9 a.m. to Noon at the Bellevue Community Center.  A site is selected every year based on a history of high mosquito infestation.

Metro Health Department crews will inspect areas within the boundaries north and west of Highway 100, south of Bellevue Road, and east of Old Harding Pike.

If you have concerns about mosquitoes in your neighborhood, call your local health department.

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