Mosquitoes' arrival is no less intense for its lateness

  • Article by: BILL MCAULIFFE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 30, 2014 - 11:29 PM
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Metropolitan Mosquito Control District experts Mitch Orr, left, and Matt Vogel sprayed Permethrin in the wooded areas along Lake George to help diminish mosquitoes on Friday in Oak Grove.

Photo: Elizabeth Flores, Star Tribune

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For landscaper Roger Odenthal, mosquito season started like a bolt from the sky Monday.

No irritating random bites, but a full-on attack.

“They probably wanted to celebrate Memorial Day,” he joked Friday as he swatted at more of the pests in New Prague.

At the Metropolitan Mosquito Control District offices, the phones started ringing the day after the holiday and they haven’t stopped, said agency spokesman Mike McLean. The urgent calls for spraying and fogging will spike soon as people turn from gardening to graduation ceremonies and other outdoor events.

“This is outdoor living at its most intense this week,” McLean said. “But no matter how lovely it is, there’s always a price to pay.”

The abrupt mosquito season-opener — later than most years’ but earlier than last year’s — can be blamed on the heavy rains and the earnest warm-up over the past two weeks, McLean said. Those conditions have roused numerous Aedes vexans, the “floodwater” mosquito whose eggs can lie dormant for several years until rain swells the creeks and puddles where they were laid.

Tuesday night’s weekly trap check by Mosquito Control workers didn’t show an inordinate number of mosquitoes, McLean said, but strongly suggested the population was about to surge. “The real story will probably be told next week,” he said.

Mushroom hunter John Lamprecht knows what the story is likely to be. He was digging around under brush Friday in a private woods near Lonsdale, just south of the seven-county control district, and turned loose clouds of mosquitoes every time he turned over a leaf. It was about as bad as he’s ever seen.

Lamprecht, who’s been nosing around in the springtime woods for 40 years, said he slathers DEET on his exposed skin to ward off the insects, but they still get up close and personal.

“They don’t land on you, but they’re buzzing around your ears and face. And once in while you take a deep breath and in goes a mosquito,” he said. “But turnabout is fair play, I guess.”

The mosquitoes now airborne are the species that make up about 70 to 80 percent of those that bite people in any summer, McLean said. They have several short generations in a season, which could be limited by dry weather. Regardless, they will soon be succeeded by Coquillettidia perturbans, an aggressive biter that has been developing on the roots of cattails through the winter and spring and will emerge around July 4. That species is one of several longer-lived species that develop later in the season and are capable of transmitting diseases.

Bill McAuliffe • 612-673-7646

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