Jun 28, 2023 - News

Mosquito season is getting longer

Data: Climate Central; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Climate Central; Chart: Axios Visuals

Don't forget your bug spray if you're spending lots of evenings outdoors this summer.

Driving the news: Columbus' number of "mosquito days" — those with the hot, humid weather in which the flying insects thrive — is half a month longer than a few decades ago, according to a new analysis from nonprofit climate news group Climate Central.

Why it matters: Mosquitoes carry diseases such as malaria, West Nile virus, Zika and more.

By the numbers: Columbus logged 149 mosquito days in 2022, compared with 133 in 1979 — a 16-day increase.

  • The report defines a "mosquito day" as one with average relative humidity of 42% or higher, plus daily temperatures of 50-95°.

The big picture: Our 16-day jump is the same as the nationwide average for cities with increases, Axios' Alex Fitzpatrick and Kavya Beheraj report.

  • Of 242 locations Climate Central analyzed, 71% had an increase.
  • Some locations, particularly in the South, are actually getting too hot for mosquitoes.

Of note: Rainfall and drought can also influence mosquito activity.

  • The insects breed in pools of standing water, common after major storms.

What's happening: The Ohio EPA awarded grants totaling $816,000 this month to 41 counties to control mosquitoes through spraying, surveillance, habitat removal and community outreach.

  • Delaware received $24,000, and Licking, Pickaway and Union got $25,000 each.
  • Over the last seven years, the state EPA and health department have awarded $7.5 million to local health departments and communities for mosquito control programs.

The bottom line: Mosquitos and the diseases they sometimes carry are becoming yet another costly and potentially dangerous climate change-induced problem.

Bonus: DIY mosquito traps

Photo: Thomas Wheatley/Axios

Here's a pro tip from Axios Atlanta's Thomas Wheatley on a low-cost, eco-friendly way to squash skeeters in your yard.

Quick take: It involves luring female mosquitoes into 5-gallon buckets to lay their eggs, then killing the larvae with Mosquito Dunks.

Of note: You'll still need to be vigilant about removing mosquito attractants, such as weeds, tall grass and standing water.

Go deeper: Why do mosquitoes bite? The sweet blood myth busted

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