Health officials warn of mosquito explosion due to flooding

Once floodwaters recede, there will be yet another headache for residents to deal with – mosquitoes.

Health officials are predicting a bumper crop of the pesky insects in areas that were hard hit by floods, and that's raising new concerns about the West Nile Virus.    

Gerik Wallsten is a popular man these days, and a busy man, too. Wallsten works for Skeeter Beater, a mosquito control business based out of Hawthorne Woods where the phones -- like mosquitoes -- won't stop buzzing.

"Out of control. Lights out. Last two weeks have been murdering us. Phone call one after another after another,” Wallsten said.

And it's only going to get worse, much worse.

As the floodwaters recede, they leave behind pools of standing water in low lying areas, ditches and backyards -- the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes.

"They'll be hitting within the next week or so,” said Mike Adam of the Lake County Health Department.

Biologist Mike Adam says the first big hatch will be floodwater mosquitoes, which are a major nuisance but thankfully don't carry West Nile Virus.

But then there’s bad news.

"A couple weeks later these same areas that were producing floodwater mosquits now are going to be producing a Culex mosquito, which is the main carrier of West Nile Virus,” Adam said.

So far, no mosquitoes in Lake County have tested positive for West Nile, but that could change in a hurry.

And while public health officials plan to do spraying and larvaciding in populated areas, the best defense starts at home.

"If you have things in your backyard like bird baths and plant containers, buckets of water, please, please dump those out because they're the local contributor to a lot of those things,” Adam said.

Floodwater mosquito eggs can survive on dry ground for several years, so when the water comes up like this and remains stagnant, they hatch by the billions.

"You see thousands and thousands of mosquitos come up out of the grass, out of the trees when we're spraying, knock them down. It's quite insane out there now, honestly,” Wallsten said.

It only takes a week for a floodwater mosquito to go from egg to adult, so there could be multiple generations of skeeters before the water finally disappears.

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