The Buzz on Mosquito Season
A wet winter and warming temperatures have mosquitoes landing early
The 2009–2010 winter, which dropped record amounts of snow and rain on many parts of the country, was one of the wettest winters on record. Now, unseasonably warm April weather is breaking high-temperature records with the mercury reaching into the eighties. With a wet winter melting into a warm spring, an intense mosquito season could be in the forecast.
Mosquitoes can become active in early spring, but high temperatures in June, July and August typically make summer the peak season for the pest. Summer-like temperatures earlier in the year could lead to an extended mosquito season. Orkin’s mosquito treatment service, which experiences high retention from existing customers, has already seen a 5 percent increase in sales from new customers this year.
“When considering the mosquito activity in a given area, we look at two main environmental factors: warmth and moisture,” said Ron Harrison, Ph.D., Orkin entomologist and technical director. “The winter snow and rain levels, coupled with a quick rise in spring temperature, have created optimal mosquito conditions,” added Harrison.
In addition to irritating bites, mosquitoes can spread the deadly West Nile virus and other types of viral encephalitis, among other diseases. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), serious symptoms of West Nile virus can include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, muscle weakness, disorientation and paralysis. The 2009 incidences of West Nile virus dropped to 663 cases from 1,356 cases in 2008, likely due to widespread drought. Thirty cases were fatal, adding to the 1,130 West Nile deaths in the U.S. since the virus was first identified here in 1999.
According to the CDC’s website, the number of West Nile virus cases can fluctuate year to year, but mosquito activity is seen throughout the country. Orkin offers the following tips to homeowners to prevent mosquito bites and reduce the risk of disease transmission:
- When outdoors, spray an EPA-registered insect repellent on exposed skin or on clothing. For greater protection, wear long sleeves, long pants and socks. Prime biting hours for most mosquitoes [that spread West Nile virus] are between dusk and dawn.
- Empty standing water from gutters, birdbaths or flower pots, and thin vegetation around the home.
- To prevent entry, make sure screens on windows and doors fit tightly and have no holes.
- Call a pest control professional for information on mosquito control services.
Though the primary concern stateside is West Nile virus, mosquito-transmitted malaria is deadly in Africa. To address this issue, Orkin initiated the Fight the Bite campaign. For each mosquito service sold, Orkin donates funds for one long-lasting, insecticide-treated bed net to Nothing But Nets, a global, grassroots campaign of the United Nations Foundation. Now in the third year of the partnership, Orkin pledges to donate $225,000 to purchase and distribute nets and to educate African communities about their proper use. To kick off 2010, Martha Craft, vice president of public relations and communications for Rollins, Inc., Orkin’s parent company, and Julie Stone, Orkin’s new customer specialist, traveled to Africa to see firsthand how Orkin’s donated mosquito nets are being used. To learn more about Orkin’s Fight the Bite campaign and mosquito control service, visit nets.orkin.com.
About Orkin, LLC
Founded in 1901, Atlanta-based Orkin is an industry leader in essential pest control services and protection against termite damage, rodents and insects in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Europe, Central America, the Middle East, the Caribbean, Asia and the Mediterranean. With more than 400 locations, Orkin’s almost 8,000 employees serve approximately 1.7 million customers. The company serves homeowners and numerous industries, including food and beverage processing, foodservice, hospitality, healthcare, retail, warehousing, property/ facilities management, schools and institutions. Learn more about Orkin on our Web site at www.orkin.com. Orkin is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Rollins, Inc. (NYSE: ROL).