The effects of near-historic snowfall during the winter are still being felt in Colorado’s Western Slope and High Country, as the snowmelt and resulting moisture have contributed to a noticeable increase in mosquito populations. While there is currently no precise data to support this observation, entomologists and experts suggest that the abundance of mosquitoes this year can be attributed to the higher levels of moisture. Other insects such as cockroaches, ticks, and biting flies have also seen a rise in numbers due to the significant snowfall across western parts of the United States. The connection lies in the fact that snowpack leads to melting and subsequent flooding or excess water, which directly impacts mosquito populations.
Additionally, the heavy rainfall experienced in Colorado this spring, combined with temperature conditions, further influences mosquito activity. Mosquitoes are most active between May and September, with their behavior heavily influenced by weather patterns. As temperatures consistently rise above 50 degrees Fahrenheit and the climate becomes warm and humid, mosquitoes thrive and proliferate.
To make homes less mosquito-friendly, it is crucial to eliminate standing water, as female mosquitoes lay their eggs in or near stagnant water. Removing potential breeding sites, such as gutters, old tires, tarps, and birdbaths, can significantly reduce mosquito populations. Regularly dumping or draining water sources and applying larvicides containing bacillus thuringiensis israeliensis (BTI) can further prevent mosquito larvae development. Professional mosquito spraying services may also be employed for larger-scale mosquito control, utilizing environmentally safe methods approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
When it comes to personal protection against mosquitoes, using insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, or permethrin can be effective. DEET, in particular, is endorsed by the Centers for Disease Control, although caution should be exercised regarding concentration levels. Natural alternatives such as oil of lemon eucalyptus, citronella, lavender, and peppermint can provide some repellent properties, but synthetic versions or DEET tend to be more effective. Traps, bracelets, and bug zappers are generally ineffective in repelling mosquitoes.
Even with preventive measures in place, mosquito bites can still occur. Mosquitoes can transmit diseases such as West Nile virus, Zika virus, Chikungunya virus, dengue, and malaria. West Nile virus is particularly concerning in Colorado, which had the highest number of cases in 2022 in the United States. The best approach to prevent symptoms is to use physical barriers such as clothing or nets, or apply natural oils or repellents for chemical protection.
By implementing these strategies, individuals can minimize the impact of mosquitoes and protect themselves from potential mosquito-borne diseases.