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Summer Pest Watch

Swat's up? Stormy weather spawns bumper crop of mosquitos, some carrying West Nile virus

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News_Attack of the Giant Mosquito
Mosquitos in Houston sometimes seem this big. "Panic Caused by a Mosquito in Piccadilly Circus," published by The Strand Magazine, 1910

After days of stormy weather, puddles and bigger pools of standing water have provided the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes.

Sandy Kachur, a spokeswoman for the county’s Department of Public Health and Environmental Services, said most are nuisance mosquitoes. But the Harris County Mosquito Control Division reported Monday that a mosquito in northeast Houston has tested positive for West Nile virus, according to a Houston Public Media report.

A mosquito has also tested positive for the West Nile virus in Montgomery County, officials there confirmed. So far, there are no reports of any human cases in either county.

 "We may see this into October," Kachur said. "And any tropical storm or hurricane will create another bumper crop of mosquitoes." 

West Nile virus is carried by Culex mosquitoes, just one of the 56 species of mosquitoes present in the Houston area.

"It's hard to say from year to year how much the mosquito population will grow because that is dependent on the temperature and the amount of rain we get," Kachur said. "But we're always ready for whatever the season may bring."

The Mosquito Control Division sets out about 268 traps across Harris County, both above and below ground, Kachur said. They pick up those traps each day and test the mosquitoes for West Nile Virus and  St. Louis encephalitis. When a mosquitoes test positive, they spray the infected area to prevent the spread of the disease.

"We may see this into October," Kachur said. "And any tropical storm or hurricane will create another bumper crop of mosquitoes."

Kachur says residents should eliminate any standing water in their yards or gardens as these pools are breeding grounds for mosquitoes and apply pest repellent when outdoors.

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