The beginning of June marks the unofficial start of the mosquito season in Canada, with large groups of tiny vampires preparing to invade picnics, barbecues, and other outdoor activities. Heavy rainfall, coupled with rising temperatures, will cause mosquito populations to explode in the following weeks, entomologists expecting to see multiple distinct peaks between June and September.
Although, in Canada, we often joke that the mosquito is our national bird, mosquitoes are not a laughing matter in most parts of the world. Despite their size and fragility, they cause more human deaths – about 725,000 every year – than some of the biggest predators on the planet, such as sharks, wolves, lions, elephants, and crocodiles, combined. By comparison, sharks only kill ten people a year, crocodiles 1,000, and snakes 50,000.
The reason mosquitoes cause most human suffering on the planet is because they are effective carriers of pathogens that may cause devastating diseases such as malaria, dengue, yellow fever, various forms of encephalitis, and the notorious West Nile virus.
If you’ve seen a bite on your arm or heard an annoying buzz in your ear, prepare for the worst. Aside from flooding several streets and houses, the record rainfall seen by the city of Winnipeg last week has provided prime conditions for the blood-sucking, disease-carrying mosquitoes. According to authorities, the city received as much rain over the weekend as what it receive in normal conditions for the entire month of June, significantly increasing the amount of standing floodwater and, with it, the rejuvenated mosquito swarms.
In a recent interview for CBC News, Ken Nawolsky, superintendent of the Insect Control Branch in Winnipeg, explained that the recent surge in their population is accounted for by the fact that, “The eggs that have laid dormant for the last three to five years have hatched in the water because of the significant amount of rainfall.” Although pest control professionals are moving fast to remove colonies of mosquitoes from pools of standing water across the city, homeowners can help speed up the process by removing every body of pooling water on their property.