Rain a double-edged sword in the battle against mosquitoes - KLTV.com-Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

Rain a double-edged sword in the battle against mosquitoes

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Rainwater gathers along the curb in Tyler. (Photo Source: KLTV Staff) Rainwater gathers along the curb in Tyler. (Photo Source: KLTV Staff)
Water gathered on tarp is enough to breed mosquitoes. (Photo Source: KLTV Staff) Water gathered on tarp is enough to breed mosquitoes. (Photo Source: KLTV Staff)
TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Summer rainstorms can provide relief from drought, but for the public health officials who fight the mosquito population, it's a double-edged sword.

Rushing water in creeks and streams wipe out mosquito larva before it can hatch, but the rain isn't all good news.

"My concern is... with this amount of rain coming, some places that don't normally puddle... may puddle," says Bob Gardner the Northeast Texas Public Health District Mosquito Control Supervisor.

Puddles create new mosquito breeding grounds, and street puddles aren't the only problem. The small amount of water that accumulates in littered cups and on tarps is enough to breed hundreds of mosquitoes. The list of places larva can hatch is endless.

"It can be in toys, birdbaths, french drains, dirty gutters, utensils laying out... just anything that'll hold any small amount of water," says Gardner.
Mosquito larva only need 3-5 days in stagnant water to turn into mosquitoes, and most mosquitoes spend their entire lives within 200 yards of where they hatch.

"If you have a problem with mosquitoes, your source is very close. It may not be in your yard, but it's very close," explains Gardner.

"It's very important to control the mosquito population," says Jeana Benwill, a doctor and infectious disease expert at UT Health Northeast.

Benwill says dumping stagnant water is the best defense against viruses like West Nile and Chikungunya.

"The mosquito that transmits Chikungunya bites night and day," Benwill adds.

Chikungunya's presence is slowly growing in the United States. While Chikungunya is rarely fatal, it causes extreme joint pain that lasts for more than a week. However, it only takes days for the leftover rainwater to turn East Texas backyards into breeding grounds for millions of mosquitoes.

NET Health says they'll be spraying Tyler for mosquitoes all summer, but that spray only kills the adult mosquitoes. Therefore, it's up to homeowners to eliminate standing water where there could be larva. A tablespoon of stagnant water is all it takes for that larva to become adult mosquitoes.

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