Augusta’s pesky, warm-weather nuisance soon will make a comeback after several heavy soaking rains.
Mosquitoes need water to hatch their eggs, and that typically happens seven to 10 days after rainfall, said Fred Koehle, the operations manager for Richmond County Mosquito Control.
Recent downpours mean the eggs will likely hatch at one time in great volume rather than spread out throughout the summer weeks, Koehle said. Overall, a rainy period doesn’t mean a worse mosquito problem for the entire summer.
“I don’t think the total number of mosquitoes is going to be any worse this year than last,” Koehle said.
Since June 1, rain has measured 6.72 inches at Augusta Regional Airport and 8.94 inches at Daniel Field airport, according to the National Weather Service.
During 2012, Richmond County Mosquito Control responded to 1,425 individual complaints, compared with an average of 550 complaints each year for the previous three years, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health.
Koehle’s office has fielded about five calls per day in the past week for complaints about mosquito areas, significantly less than what mosquito control typically handles. That could have been because people were indoors during the rainy days instead of exposed to biting mosquitoes outdoors, he said.
By Tuesday morning, the calls spiked to about 15 complaints, said mosquito technician Jerry DeRamus. Technicians were unable to treat areas during rainfall but returned to normal routines Tuesday evening, making house calls at which DeRamus tested for mosquito levels, inspected yards for standing water and treated the area.
Residents can help control the mosquito population by reducing breeding habitats, especially standing water, Koehle said.
“Dump anything that’s holding water, please. You just have to do it,” he pleaded.
The department works year-round to reduce the mosquito population. So far, 137 abandoned or neglected swimming pools with stagnant water have been cleaned and treated.
All 22,000 storm drains in Richmond County are being treated for the third time this year with a growth inhibitor that prevents mosquito larvae from growing into adults.
Apple Valley Drive, an area long plagued by swarms of mosquitoes, has improved significantly after a swampy ditch was cleaned last fall, Koehle said. The ditch now has fish living in it that are eating the mosquito eggs.
During a recent trapping, technicians discovered that about 80 percent of the mosquitoes in the Apple Valley Drive area flew in from one to two miles away looking for food.