Flooding may bring swarms of mosquitoes to parts of Northeast


CONCORD, N.H. (AP) – Get ready for the mosquitoes.

As if damage to roads, homes and other property wasn’t enough, the record flooding also is expected to bring a bumper crop of mosquitoes to New Hampshire and some of its neighbors.

Eggs laid by some species of mosquito can lie dormant for long periods along the edges of floodplains and drainage ditches, entomologist John Burger says. When floods finally bring water, as happened in the past week, nature goes to work.

“Every egg that was in there (the ditches) is going to start hatching,” Burger, who works at the University of New Hampshire, said Thursday. “In terms of nuisances, they are likely to become very abundant in the next few weeks.”

Burger said he ran into one of the floodwater mosquito species, Ades sticticus, about four years ago along the Merrimack River.

“There were literally clouds of them. They were eating us alive,” he said.

On the bright side, they don’t travel far. He said another species, Ades vexans, shows up more often in floodwater and drainage ditches.

“It’s a really bad biter, very aggressive biter,” Burger said. That species can travel distances.

State health officials have stepped up warnings to homeowners about standing water for the past several years because of two mosquito-borne illnesses, West Nile virus and eastern equine encephalitis. The latter killed two of the seven New Hampshire residents who got it last year.

“With the large amount of rain and warm temperatures we are experiencing, we could see a dramatic increase in the mosquito population and we know that we saw EEE and West Nile across New Hampshire last year,” state health Commissioner John Stephen said.

Burger said the species most responsible for EEE lives in hardwood swamps and shouldn’t be affected much by the flooding.

He and other experts said EEE and West Nile won’t appear until mid-summer at the earliest. A summer drought could reduce the mosquito population, and West Nile has to be transported by birds, so outbreaks aren’t certain.

Information from: New Hampshire Union Leader, http://www.unionleader.com

AP-ES-05-19-06 1102EDT