Late Summer Is Peak Disease-Carrying Season For Minnesota Mosquitoes; Here’s How To Protect Yourself
They're not only annoying, they can be deadly.
Mosquitoes are often called "Minnesota's state bird". While their population tends to be more dormant at the start of the season, there's usually a dramatic rise in their numbers towards the back-half of the summer - often overnight. That rise in population combines with a variety of other factors to make the months of July, August, and September the peak season for mosquitoes ability to carry disease, spreading it to humans.
The Minnesota Department of Health reports that our state is home to 50 different species of mosquitoes; no wonder why those late summer evenings can seem so "buggy". However, even with a large number of mosquito species, "only a few are capable of spreading disease to humans". And the diseases they spread are quite hazardous:
- Culex Tarsalis is the main vector that spreads West Nile to Minnesotans
- Aedes Triseriatus - a tree-hole mosquito - is the main spreader of the La Cross virus to gopher state residents
- Several other sub-varieties of Aedes transmit the Jamestown Canyon virus throughout Minnesota
As we stated earlier, the late summer months - July, August, and September - represent the "highest risk period" for mosquito to human transmission. That's because "most of the populations of disease-carrying mosquitoes are higher at this time of year and the viruses that cause disease have had time to become widespread in these mosquitoes."
While the casual mosquito bite won't amount to much more than an annoying "pinch" for a second or so, the Minnesota Department of Health still recommends that Northlanders take strides to (a) reduce the chances of a mosquito bite and (b) protect yourself. Here are their top three suggestions to prevent mosquito bites:
- Check and repair screens. Often as the summer season rolls along, the screens we've been counting on to keep the bugs away have aged, worn, or developed tears. Repair those screens and help to keep bugs (mosquitoes) at bay.
- Empty containers that hold water on your property. Water provides the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes, allowing their populations to explode.
- Remove old tires. This advice goes hand-in-hand with the above tip. Old, unused tires become sanctuaries for mosquitoes as they hold water and usually exist low to the ground.
At the same time, there are other steps you can take to protect yourself from mosquitoes and the potential for serious illness tied to bites:
- Find and use the right mosquito repellent. The United States Environmental Protection Agency offers a useful resource guide on their website.
- Wear mosquito repellent containing up to 30% DEET.
- Apply repellents that contain permethrin to your clothing or gear.
- Follow the product label and reapply as directed.
- Wash off all repellents when you return indoors.
- If desired, check out alternative repellents - including picaridin, IR3535, and oil of lemon eucalyptus.
- Wear loose-fitting, light colored clothing.
- Head nets should be considered in heavy-density mosquito areas of when activity would preclude avoidance.
- Avoid outdoor activity during peak mosquito feeding times.
For additional information, check out the resource page available on the Minnesota Department of Health's website.