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Recent warm days wake up pesky mosquitoes

Control district reports spike in calls -- but winter storms this week will bring relief

This is the pest: Culex quinquefasciatus. The bothersome insect has emerged from dormancy thanks to the record warm weather earlier this month.

This is the pest: Culex quinquefasciatus. The bothersome insect has emerged from dormancy thanks to the record warm weather earlier this month. Photo courtesy Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Hear that buzz? You’re not alone.

In mid-winter, mosquitos are pestering people throughout the greater Sacramento area.

Wooed out of hibernation by record warm weather, these itty-bitty biters likely were hiding in crevices indoors or near home entries. And they’re very hungry; mosquitoes need a “blood meal” to start their reproductive cycle.

Fortunately, the species we’re seeing now are more pesky, than dangerous.

“These are not the type of mosquitos that carry West Nile,” said Luz Maria Robles, spokeswoman for the Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito and Vector Control District. “They are more a nuisance and they are coming out of hibernation aggressive and looking to eat.”

Tuesday (Jan. 30), the district reported that mosquito-related calls have spiked during our recent stretch of warm weather. Highs on Sunday and Monday edged into the low 70s – a spring-like wake-up call for mosquitoes.

“This is a typical trend that we see every year when we get a few days of sunny and warm weather,” said Gary Goodman, the vector district’s manager. “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.”

The warm weather tempted more people outside in shorts and short sleeves. That made the mosquitos’ presence all the more obvious – especially near dawn or dusk when the critters are most active.

“Since people are spending more time outside, they are noticing the mosquitoes,” added Goodman.

More than 50 species of mosquitoes inhabit California. Some species may bite mammals and birds as well as people.

District crews have been looking for and inspecting areas where mosquitoes can breed, such as abandoned swimming pools or other places where water can collect, Goodman said.

But relief is on the way. (In fact, it’s already here.)

Although mosquitoes need water, this week’s big storms should give us a break from the bugs. The winter rain – and the return to lower temperatures – will force the mosquitos back into resting mode.

“Luckily, rain is in the forecast for the next few days, so we should get a break,” Goodman said.

That relief could be short-lived. As soon as temperatures start rising again, so will the mosquito bites.

The best defense? Wear long sleeves and long pants while outdoors. In addition, use an effective mosquito repellent that contains DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus, says the district.

After the storms, remember to empty any standing water that may have collected around your house in saucers under pots, toys, wheelbarrows or other spots.

To report an infestation or request a home inspection, call 1-800-429-1022.

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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of Feb. 18:

It's wet to start the week. When you do get outside, between or after storms, concentrate on damage control:

* Keep storm drains and gutters clear of debris.

* Clean up tree debris knocked down by wind and rain.

* Where did the water flow in your garden? Make notes where revisions are necessary.

* Are any trees leaning? See disturbances in the ground or lawn around their base? Time to call an arborist before the tree topples.

* Dump excess water out of pots.

* Indoors, start peppers, tomatoes and eggplant from seed.

* Lettuce and other greens also can be started indoors from seed.

* Got bare-root plants? Put their roots in a bucket of water until outdoor soil dries out. Or pot them up in 1- or 5-gallon containers. In April, transplant the plant, rootball and all, into the garden.

* Browse garden websites and catalogs. It’s not too late to order for spring and summer.

* Show your indoor plants some love. Dust leaves and mist to refresh.

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