Oklahoma experts say mosquito population has drastically increased

OKLAHOMA COUNTY, Okla. – While the rain has brought green grass and lush landscape, it has also provided a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

Oklahoma County health officials say the mosquito population has increased by 80 percent just since last year.

They’re using a few tactics to stop disease from spreading.

One way is dropping larvicide bricks in stagnant water.  So far they’ve treated 240,000 gallons of sitting water around the county.

“We capture mosquitoes in traps to find out if they are possibly vectors for human viruses,” said Public Health Specialist Waite Colbaugh.

The traps are just one way the Oklahoma County Health Department is taking proactive measures to keep West Nile and other mosquito born illnesses from spreading.

“We had a heavy rain followed by seven to ten days of a dry period. That’s perfect for mosquito breeding because that dry period allows for the mosquitoes to go through their life cycle and become biting adults,” said Colbaugh.

Colbaugh is studying 12 different species. Under the microscope, he separates the males from females. Since only the females live off blood, they’re tested for West Nile and other diseases like malaria, eastern equine encephalitis and heart worms.

Epidemiologists said they’re most concerned about the southern house mosquito because it carries West Nile.

“The case counts are really low this year in comparison to the last three years,” said Cynthia Harry. “Right now there is one that is confirmed case in Oklahoma.”

But with the thousands of gallons of stagnant water still lingering, officials say we’re not out of the woods yet.

Health officials say they can’t stress the four “D’s” enough. The four “D’s”:

  1. Drain standing water on your property,
  2. Use repellent with deet,
  3. Dress in long sleeves and pants
  4. Avoid being outside at dusk and dawn. That’s when the southern house mosquitoes are out for prey.

If you’re looking for natural remedies, experts recommend citronella or eucalyptus oil.