Arizona is home to 40 mosquito species, some of which can spread diseases like the West Nile virus and St. Louis Encephalitis, while others are merely a biting nuisance, and some species are not even considered pests. Mosquitoes have not always posed a serious public health threat in Arizona, but this year, Arizona became the state with the highest number of West Nile disease cases, and the disease is now a permanent part of southern Arizona’s ecosystem. This means that residents can expect an abundance of West Nile-carrying mosquitoes in urban and residential areas every year from now on, and unless every homeowner in the southern half of the state diligently removes standing water sources from their lawns on a regular basis, the high rate of West Nile infection cases will also continue unabated.
Removing standing water that collects in small containers on residential lawns robs urban-dwelling Culex mosquitoes of their primary breeding source. Naturally, eliminating standing water from properties would greatly reduce the number of infected mosquitoes in human-populated areas, and therefore, the rate of West Nile infections would decrease substantially. Unfortunately, removing all standing water sources from properties is easier said than done, as large numbers of mosquitoes will congregate around even the smallest of standing water sources. For example, the small amount of water that collects in a flower pot saucer and a bottle cap is more than enough to provide developing eggs with the nourishment they need to mature into adults. So removing all breeding sites from a property would be difficult, as even the tiniest water puddles are enough to support Culex mosquito populations.
Considering the heavy rains during monsoon season, as well as the flash floods that result, keeping pools of water from collecting on properties would be next to impossible during July and August. In fact, Arizona is the state that sees the densest populations of mosquito pests, and this is largely due to the Massive amounts of water that collects on city streets during monsoons season. According to entomologists at Arizona State University, all the storm drain water in Arizona creates the perfect conditions for urban mosquitoes species to establish dense populations. However, this should not discourage residents from removing stagnant water from their property, as doing so will reduce the number of disease-carrying mosquitoes that congregate in human-populated areas. It is particularly important for Arizona residents to apply mosquito repellent before setting for outdoors.
Do you know anybody who has contracted the West Nile virus?