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Early spring heat brings out mosquitoes

Avoid their bite; wear long sleeves and repellent

Mosquito on skin
This is an inland floodwater mosquito ( Aedes vexans ), among the
"first biter" varieties. (Photo courtesy Montana State University)



People love temperatures in the 70s – and so do mosquitoes.

Our current warm spell has brought out early-season mosquitoes in force, and they’re hungry.

“This is a typical trend that we see every year in February when we get a few days of sunny and warm weather,” said Gary Goodman, manager of the Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito and Vector Control District, in a district release Thursday. “These mosquitoes are ones that had been hibernating during the past few months. The warm temperatures have brought them out of resting and they are aggressively biting.”

According to the district, these mosquitoes are common in spring and are considered more of a seasonal nuisance than deadly threat. They’re not the species that carries West Nile Virus or other diseases. They just like to bite.

Sacramento is home to more than 50 mosquito species, according to the UC integrated pest management experts. Among the most common “first biters” is the inland floodwater mosquito ( Aedes vexans ). It doesn’t need a flood to hatch; just water and warmth. Its species name comes from the Latin word for “annoy.”

District crews have been inspecting and treating potential trouble spots where mosquitoes breed, noted the district.

This week, service requests shot up along with the heat. Those requests “increased significantly” when temperatures hit the high 60s and low 70s, says the district.

“People are enjoying the outdoors and they are noticing the mosquitoes more,” added Goodman.

As our warming trend continues, the district asked residents to keep an eye out for places where mosquitoes can breed. Drain any stagnant water that may have collected in flowerpots, saucers, buckets, bird baths, wheelbarrows or other containers. Mosquitoes can breed in as little as a few tablespoons of water.

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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Feb. 5

Make the most of sunny days and get winter tasks done:

* This is the last chance to spray fruit trees before they bloom. Treat peach and nectarine trees with copper-based fungicide. Spray apricot trees at bud swell to prevent brown rot. Apply horticultural oil to control scale, mites and aphids on fruit trees soon after a rain. But remember: Oils need at least 24 hours to dry to be effective. Don’t spray during foggy weather or when rain is forecast.

* Feed spring-blooming shrubs and fall-planted perennials with slow-release fertilizer. Feed mature trees and shrubs after spring growth starts.

* Finish pruning roses and deciduous trees.

* Remove aphids from blooming bulbs with a strong spray of water or insecticidal soap.

* Fertilize strawberries and asparagus.

* Transplant or direct-seed several flowers, including snapdragon, candytuft, lilies, astilbe, larkspur, Shasta and painted daisies, stocks, bleeding heart and coral bells.

* In the vegetable garden, plant Jerusalem artichoke tubers, and strawberry and rhubarb roots.

* Transplant cabbage and its close cousins – broccoli, kale and Brussels sprouts – as well as lettuce (both loose leaf and head).

* Plant artichokes, asparagus and horseradish from root divisions.

* Plant potatoes from tubers and onions from sets (small bulbs). The onions will sprout quickly and can be used as green onions in March.

* From seed, plant beets, chard, lettuce, mustard, peas, radishes and turnips.

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