Richmond County residents might be itching more this summer than they were a year ago.
The mosquito population is up about 30 percent over last year, Richmond mosquito control manager Fred Koehle said.
"It's been a tough year. The rains have definitely increased the number of mosquitoes out there," he said.
The traps are catching roughly the same 22 mosquito species that normally infest the area, Koehle said, but this year, more mosquitoes are showing up.
Also, county funds to combat mosquitoes have shrunk. The budget decreased from $170,000 in 2009 to $145,000 this year.
The department adjusted by cutting one employee from its crew of four. Neighborhoods that were sprayed once a month before are now waiting two to three weeks longer, Koehle said.
Mosquitoes are known carriers of 150 different diseases, including West Nile virus and Eastern equine encephalitis. They hatch in large numbers four to seven days after a heavy rain, Koehle said.
Richmond County controls mosquitoes by spraying neighborhoods, treating storm drains with larvicide and by enforcing ordinances against abandoned pools.
In Columbia County, abandoned pools have been responsible for the majority of complaints about mosquitoes, emergency services director Pam Tucker said.
But unlike Richmond County, Tucker thinks Columbia County has only had an average number of mosquitoes this year.
Columbia County controls its mosquito population by putting larvicide in stagnant water.
Homeowners can prevent infestations by getting rid of standing water. Abandoned swimming pools, bird baths, gutters and downspouts, decorative ponds, tarps, leaky spigots, low spots in the yard, tires and tree holes are places where larvae can grow.