The Panhandle has hit a record. No, not a temperature record, but a mosquito record. Trapping for mosquitoes has continued throughout the summer with the Panhandle region sending in 1,000s of mosquitoes, far more than the other districts who are also currently trapping. One week saw more than 4,000 mosquitoes in a trap sent in from Scotts Bluff County. For the state of Nebraska 37,262 mosquitoes have been collected as of July 22, which is more than the total mosquitoes collected for all of 2022. The Panhandle region is now considered to be at very high West Nile virus risk which means that typical human encounters with mosquitoes can result in a high instance of contracting West Nile if bitten.
Mosquitoes sent in for testing are generally put into “pools” to help with pathogen testing. There has been a total of 60 positive mosquito pools across the state with the Panhandle having 50 of these pools. The most common type of mosquito that carries West Nile virus, along with St. Louis encephalitis and Western Equine encephalitis, is the Culex mosquito species which the Panhandle has seen a high spike of in the traps this season. There have been over 8,000 Culex tarsalis female mosquitoes caught in Panhandle traps, the most out of any of the species caught. Female species are important to note because they bite humans, not males; females require blood to develop and lay eggs.
“The conditions have just been more favorable for mosquitoes this year,” says Melissa Haas, Environmental Health Coordinator with Panhandle Public Health District. “Increased rainfall and cooler temperatures early on in the season helped create good breeding grounds for them.”
Panhandle residents are urged to exercise caution when outdoors. To avoid mosquito bites, PPHD recommends:
- Applying insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
- Wearing long-sleeved shirt, pants and socks in wooded areas or areas of tall grass.
- Avoiding going out at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
- Eliminating standing water to reduce mosquito breeding sites.
- Keep window screens in good repair, and.
- Use larvicides that contain Bacillus thuringiensis in standing water that is not easily drainable.
To request further information on West Nile virus, please visit www.pphd.ne.gov, e-mail email@example.com, or call 308-487-3600 x108. Panhandle Public Health District is working together to improve the health, safety, and quality of life for all who live, learn, work and play in the Panhandle. Our vision is that we are a healthier and safer Panhandle Community.