LEWISTON – When Kimberly Foss hears the buzzing of a nearby mosquito, it’s like music to her ears.

While most people would swat away, Foss looks to trap and then study the critter. She’s so fond of the winged insects with the needle-like proboscis that she keeps them in her Lewiston home.

Foss is an environmental scientist and a mosquito biologist. And she’s smack-dab into her time of year, the onset of mosquito breeding seasons.

Foss has already been out and about in Androscoggin County checking vernal pools, flooded yards, even lifting storm drain covers to survey and trap the biting bugs. Soon, her employer, Municipal Pest Management Services Inc., of Portsmouth, N.H., and York, will be testing the bugs for disease, West Nile disease in particular.

Foss recorded the first confirmed case of West Nile in Maine in a dead bird found in Sabattus in 2001. She’s been looking for recurrence of the disease ever since.

She said the coming mosquito season “is iffy.”

Populations of some species is down while others might be up. Right now, with plenty of snow melt and rain, the conditions are right for a bumper crop of species that breed in bogs and other such places, she said. If the weather warms and turns dry over the next month, watch out.

A cool and wet spring might drive those numbers down. But then others of the 43 known Maine mosquito species could thrive.

Foss says she intends to keep an eye on the area’s mosquitoes right through the season. That won’t be over until late September, perhaps even early October if it stays warm.

Her prediction: “We’ll see.”

– Doug Fletcher

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