The recent weather may not have pleased many residents, but mosquitoes and ticks are thriving in Southern New Hampshire.
Sarah MacGregor, owner of Dragon Mosquito Control, said the combination of dry weather, followed by a heat wave, then rain on Sunday and Monday, led to an explosion of mosquito larvae over the last week.
“They don’t slow down in the heat,” she said. “It was pretty tough to try to keep up with them.”
Dragon Mosquito Control is used by Salem, Plaistow, Londonderry, Derry, Hampstead, Newton, Sandown and Danville.
MacGregor said crews were out all weekend in 90-degree heat, spraying larvacide in local communities. They were surprised at just how many mosquitoes were out there, she said.
“We saw a pretty rapid development in the population,” she said. “The life cycle of the larvae is usually seven days. But, due to the extreme heat, it was closer to about five days this week.”
MacGregor said the mosquitoes her crews saw were not yet hatched, but she expected the hatching to occur within the next couple of days.
Michael Morrison, an entomologist with Municipal Pest Management Inc., hasn’t seen the same influx of mosquitoes, but they are preparing for this to be a difficult season.
“We are hearing that this is going to be a really dry summer,” he said. “West Nile virus is famous for happening in dry years because the water gets really stagnant in catch basins. When that happens, culex mosquito populations are really high, so it has us concerned.”
Morrison said they are just seeing the larvae develop in catch basins, as water temperature reaches 70 degrees.
Ticks are out in full strength in communities Morrison covers.
“They’re just terrible this year,” he said. “The environmental conditions are right for them.”
Morrison’s company covers Atkinson and Pelham. Every day, his crew comes back with ticks after spraying in the woods.
“It’s getting to be an emerging problem,” he said. “It’s just going to get worse and worse since there aren’t many things we can do to keep them in check.”
Morrison said his company works with towns and schools to prevent ticks as best as possible.
“We try to educate children about what can happen if you go into woods,” he said. “We also make mulch borders since it’s hard for the ticks to get over that. Occasionally, we use insecticide or mow down vegetation, but it’s getting to be an emerging problem.”
Newton Town Administrator Nancy Wrigley said mosquito control is a priority for the town since the death of 20-year-old Kelly Labell from Eastern equine encephalitis in 2005.
“We get monthly reports from (MacGregor) about the mosquitoes in our town,” she said. “We make it a point to do what needs to be done.”
Newton spends $35,000 each year on mosquito control.
But not every town is fighting the pests.
In Windham, they do not use an outside contract for mosquito and tick control due to budget concerns.
“We just found we didn’t have room in the budget to do that anymore,” Town Administrator David Sullivan said. “We consistently advise schools and sports leagues to take personal precautions to use bug spray.”
MacGregor said once the hatching for mosquitoes start, more insects usually follow.
“People need to be prepared,” she said. “When everything starts hatching, deer flies and dog ticks start to come out. It seems as right as we are ready to start enjoying summer, they are here to keep us company.”