Recent rains haven’t just filled up area lakes, but also old tires, buckets, roof gutters, soda cans and anything else that collects standing water — and city officials are urging residents to dump that standing water to prevent mosquitoes from breeding.
“What we are concerned about right now with all the rain is there is going to be a higher mosquito population,” code compliance director Brandon Bennett told the City Council on Tuesday. “And therefore a higher risk for West Nile virus.
“The more we can do now to get people to drain the source pools, because really what is driving the mosquito population is stagnant water.”
The more mosquitoes breed and lay eggs now, the more mosquitoes there will be later to keep breeding, he said.
“The mosquito population is just going to bloom,” Bennett said.
City crews started trapping and testing mosquitoes for the West Nile virus in mid-April in 48 testing locations citywide. They have not yet seen any indication of the virus, he said.
The city partners with Tarrant County and the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth to test mosquitoes for the presence of West Nile.
Bennett said the peak time for West Nile is July, and educational efforts, such as urging people to wear mosquito repellent, start in June. The city’s proactive efforts include spraying and applying larvicides.
Bennett also warned residents to wear mosquito repellent during the day.
Mosquitoes carrying the West Nile virus bite at night, but a relatively new virus in the U.S., chikungunya, which causes symptoms including fever and joint pain, is carried by mosquitoes that bite during the day. The virus has not reached North Texas, Bennett said, but is active in the Caribbean and could be brought here by travelers.
“It is just a matter of time before we see that virus here,” Bennett said.
Dallas-Fort Worth ranked eighth on a list of Top Mosquito Cities compiled by the pest-control company Orkin. The report, released Monday, ranks cities based on the number of mosquito customers served in 2014.
Caty Hirst, 817-390-7984