Warm weather brings mosquitoes early to Yuba-Sutter
Turns out, you can't blame the dry winter, or climate change, for the itchy bump on your arm left by your neighborhood mosquito at this unlikely time of year.
Rather, say officials with the Sutter-Yuba Mosquito Vector Control District, it's a habit of the irritating little insect doing the same thing some of us humans do mid-slumber: Having a snack and then sleeping it off.
"They need a blood meal nourishment," said district manager Ron McBride of the spike in recent weeks of mosquito bites. "They're out flying around, but once they get that nourishment, they're back hibernating."
And there's nothing unusual about it, said McBride. Mosquitoes typically go into hibernation during late fall or early winter, as temperatures drop.
Usually sometime in late January or early February, particularly if temperatures are normal, the insects come out of their hibernation for a meal, then hibernate again after they get it, McBride said.
The result is typically a surge of calls to his district, he said; about five a day now, up from none just a few weeks ago.
But because the mosquitoes aren't coming from an existing hatchery, he said, it doesn't make sense to spray standing water like district employees would do during the summer.
"The only thing we can use is a hand sprayer," he said. "And that just gets the ones it gets at the time."
In Nicolaus, Barbara Underwood, 50, said she is used to the mid-winter biting, but she has her limits.
"It got to be so bad you didn't want to be outside," she said Wednesday, after a district employee sprayed at her property. "They came at the right time of day to do that."
If there was an unusual aspect to the surge of mosquitoes this winter, it was how it came on the heels of a cold spell in January, McBride said.
Typically, freezing temperatures keep the pests in hibernation longer, he said.
But McBride said he does not believe there is any greater risk of West Nile virus from mid-winter blood suckers. And with a rainstorm set to roll in over the next couple of days, the slap-scratch-curse pattern should also stop, at least temporarily.
"That should knock them back out," he said.