Mid-South goes from winter straight into mosquito season

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The recent winter weather brought a chill to the Mid-South, but it could also mean another headache: an earlier onset of mosquitos.

All that that melted snow and could mean more standing water. The Shelby County Health Department says they’re already getting calls about the annoying insects.

Cheryl Clausel, an entomologist who studies the small flies, explained what’s going on.

“These are the samples that are brought in so we have about 4,000 sites that we monitor on a bi-weekly basis,” Clausel said.

Clausel said teams are actively larviciding. The crews dip for potential larvae in ground depressions, streams, which are places that collect still water. 

“They bring these back, they’re identified to species in the lab. Then they treat with a granular larvicide that’s put out by hand and that kills the mosquitoes. So the mosquitoes eat it, it’s not harmful to anything else that may be in the water,” Clausel said.

Clausel says right now we’re seeing nuisance mosquitos and heartier mosquitos that live in colder weather. 

“This time of year it’s more so in the suburbs, the grassy areas where there’s more waterways,” Clausel said.

The mosquitos known to carry West Nile typically come in the warmer months.

“So for West Nile definitively the inner city gets pretty hard with West Nile,” Clausel said.

As we get ready to spend more time outside, the health department asks you to take a few extra minutes to check your yard for standing water. 

“What we say is tip and toss. Tip it over, toss it out if you have to,” Kasia Smith-Alexander, Administrator of Environmental Health Services, said. “Walk your yard, walk your perimeter. Look for any type of flower pots, any toys that might’ve been out from last year. Any water baths or bird baths.”

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