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Huge Mosquito Hatch Overwhelms County’s Effort

June 23, 2008

By Samantha Marcus, La Crosse Tribune, Wis.

Jun. 23–Weather conditions conspired to create some ideal breeding grounds for mosquitoes in the Coulee Region, experts warn.

Dave Geske, a mosquito control expert at the La Crosse County Health Department, said they’re seeing huge hatches of the nuisance species as flood waters recede. It was a productive spring for mosquitoes, but it’s since become far worse, and approaching humid temperatures will only swell the crop, he said.

“There’s not a great deal we can do about those, just because of the amount of flooding that happened, particularly in the marsh complex where the La Crosse River went over its banks,” Geske said.

Mosquitoes thrive in the shallow, stagnant pools left behind as flood waters ebb.

“Often eggs are dormant, then we get this sort of rainfall and flooding, and any egg residually there has the opportunity to hatch,” Geske added.

Mosquitoes also are averse to water motion and instead will lay eggs in the standing waters found in tires, buckets and birdbaths.

Habitats are becoming more productive with this type of rainfall, he said, adding that windy days earlier in spring helped quell some of the population by causing water motion and drowning mosquitoes.

Authorities try to treat containers with bacteria and find new habitats to abate, but they already increased trapping efforts last fall after similar flooding.

“We try to do some pest control, but we’re really not designed to have this kind of flooding,” he said. “Our problem is we have finite resources and we have to work within them.”

Samantha Marcus can be reached at (608) 791-8220 or smarcus@lacrossetribune.com.

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