Western Colorado is currently facing a surge in mosquito populations due to near-historic snowfall and abundant rainfall earlier this year. Experts believe that the increased moisture has created favorable breeding conditions, leading to a rise in the number of mosquitoes in the region.
While precise data is yet to be compiled, entomologists and technical advisors have observed a significant increase in mosquito activity across western Colorado.
Melissa Schreiner, an entomologist from Colorado State University Extension in Grand Junction, noted that the abundance of other pests like cockroaches, ticks, and biting flies is indicative of an elevated mosquito population.
Daniel Markowski, a technical advisor with the American Mosquito Control Association, explained that heavy snowfall contributes to snowmelt and subsequent flooding or water accumulation, creating ideal conditions for mosquito breeding.
Furthermore, the combination of ample rainfall during spring and warm temperatures has further fueled mosquito proliferation. Mosquitoes are most active between May and September, with their presence heavily influenced by weather patterns. Once temperatures consistently rise above 50 degrees Fahrenheit, mosquitoes thrive in warm and humid environments.
Colorado is home to approximately 45 mosquito species, and contrary to popular belief, they can be found at various elevations. Different mosquito species are active during specific times of the year and at particular elevations, depending on the availability of water resources required for breeding and reproductive cycles.
The current year’s excessive precipitation has resulted in an increase in standing water and stagnant pools, which provide optimal breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
To combat the mosquito population, individuals can take proactive measures to make their surroundings less mosquito-friendly. The primary step is to eliminate standing water, as female mosquitoes lay their eggs in or near such water sources.
Weekly dumping or draining of water from containers like gutters, old tires, wheelbarrows, birdbaths, and other objects can interrupt the mosquito lifecycle. If water cannot be drained, applying a larvicide containing bacillus thuringiensis israeliensis (BTI) is an environmentally friendly option.
BTI, derived from bacteria, effectively kills mosquito larvae and remains active for up to 30 days. Professional spraying services are also available for larger-scale mosquito control.
In an effort to limit the spread of diseases such as West Nile virus and other viruses carried by mosquitoes, many communities, golf courses, and parks in western Colorado have already conducted mosquito spraying.
These spraying operations typically use adulticides to target mature mosquitoes. Authorities ensure the use of ultra-low volume (ULV) methods approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which pose minimal risks to humans, pets, animals, and the environment.
While various mosquito repellents are available, experts recommend using products containing DEET or picaridin as effective options. DEET concentration should not exceed 30%, and picaridin is considered a less irritating alternative.
Permethrin, an insecticide, can be applied to clothing or gear but is not recommended for skin use. Natural repellents such as oil of lemon eucalyptus, citronella, lavender, and peppermint can provide some protection but are generally less effective than synthetic or DEET-based options. Traps, bracelets, and bug zappers have shown limited effectiveness in repelling mosquitoes.
Some individuals are more attractive to mosquitoes due to various factors such as breath odors, skin microbiota byproducts, and general human odors. While certain studies suggest that people with blood type “O” are more attractive to mosquitoes, the reasons behind this preference remain unclear. Dark-colored clothing can make individuals more visible to mosquitoes, and chemical cues emitted by individuals can also.