Janesville has seen more than 8 inches of rain in the past three weeks, and that means mosquitoes.
Experts say mosquitoes lay eggs in places where water collects. Even water trapped in the folds of that tarp on the woodpile is enough.
And those eggs can hatch within a day—sometimes within hours, said Susan Paskewitz, professor of entomology at UW-Madison.
Meanwhile, rising floodwaters can activate mosquito eggs that have lain dormant in dry soil. Some species’ eggs can lay dormant for years.
Paskewitz said mosquitoes are rife this week where she lives in Madison. Residents in the Janesville area have reported the pests, too.
Hordes of mosquitoes are rare this time of year, when some breeds are already getting ready for winter. But the rains have changed that, Paskewitz said.
In addition to being obnoxious biters, mosquitoes can transmit West Nile virus, which can kill, Paskewitz noted.
The state has documented only two West Nile cases this year. An unusually large number of cases, about 50, was reported last year.
But the kind of mosquito that carries West Nile is in decline this time of year, and most of the current biters are what Paskewitz called “nuisance species.”
It takes up to two weeks before the hatchlings become adult mosquitoes and start to bite, Paskewitz said.
Paskewitz recommends using repellent. She uses netting round her face when the biters are thick.
Try to avoid brushing against shrubs in the backyard during the day, she added. That’s where mosquitoes hang out, and disturbing them makes them take flight.
The Mayo Clinic website describes the biting process (this is not for the squeamish): “Mosquitoes use their mouthparts to puncture your skin and feed on your blood. The bump usually clears up on its own in a few days.
“Occasionally, a mosquito bite causes a large area of swelling, soreness and redness. This type of reaction, most common in children, is sometimes referred to as skeeter syndrome.”
Children and adults who have never been exposed to a particular kind of mosquito can develop hives, a large reddish area and swollen lymph nodes, the website continues.
If even more severe symptoms develop, such as fever, headache, body aches and signs of infection, see your doctor, the website advises.
Haters of these biters can take comfort in one fact. Paskewitz said some of today’s mosquitoes will lay their eggs in floodwaters that will recede before the eggs hatch, so they’ll remain dormant until those areas are inundated again, which could be years from now.