Concern grows over uptick in mosquitoes in Pioneer Valley

After recent rain and flooding, concerns about mosquitoes have many communities on alert.
Published: Jul. 26, 2023 at 8:01 PM EDT
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NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) -After recent rain and flooding, concerns about mosquitoes have many communities on alert.

One of those communities that are concerned is Northampton. It’s been a summer full of mosquitoes and with repeated rain storms and flooding around western Mass., folks like Clif Thayer have been bitten constantly.

“I work for a place called Earthworx, which is a wilderness survival school for kids, and we’ve been out camping like all summer, and with all the rain and all the really hot weather and a lot of standing water, the mosquitos and bugs are everywhere,” said Thayer.

We spoke with Northampton Health Commissioner Merridith O’Leary, who said as members of the Pioneer Valley Mosquito Control District, they and other communities are cautious about mosquitoes during the summertime. This year, even more so.

“We’re watching mosquito activity and breeding activity. We are testing for the disease in mosquitoes, and monitoring for disease in humans. We also do testing and trapping here in the city of Northampton, we have areas where we know historically mosquito breeding has occurred, and we’re trying to trap a certain mosquito that carries certain viruses. There are about 20 different viruses of concern, and then we send the mosquitos into the state lab for testing.” O’Leary explained.

She is calling for extra larvicide treatments to still water on city properties including wetlands in areas off of South Street and in addition, catch basins.

“The treatment that we use is supposed to last for 90 days, but what I’m afraid of is because of all the flooding that it goes diluted, or when we treat the catch basin, it moved on because you had such a powerful surge of water going in so I’ve asked the company that we used, to have the contractor to come in and retreat those areas just to be safe,” said O’Leary.

Residents should still take preventative measures to avoid being bitten by taking care of themselves and their property.

This can include:

  • Checking screens for holes
  • Cleaning gutters
  • Emptying small containers of water like birdbaths
  • Wearing bug repellant
  • Long sleeve clothing
  • Noting insects’ peak hours, dawn, and dusk.

“Mosquitoes can breed in something as small as the water captured in this (Bottle) cap, if there is enough water in this cap, and you have mosquitos laying their larva in here, within four days, you’ll have mosquitos… active mosquitos flying from just this small cap full of water, hundreds of them,” warned O’Leary.

O’Leary tells me the next water treatment will be in a few days and if anyone comes across a source of still water on city property to contact the Department of Health and Human Services so it can be checked out.