It's looking like a typical season so far for mosquitoes in Calgary, but that could change if wet weather arrives in the coming weeks, officials say.

The city started its control program about a week ago to get ahead of any early hatches, says Chris Manderson, urban conservation lead for Calgary Parks.

To help that effort, Manderson suggests Calgarians have a look around their yards for likely mosquito breeding spots.

"Look for standing water," he said. "Eavestroughs. Bird baths. Make sure the water is changed regularly. Those sorts of things will help."

An entomologist at the University of Calgary, John Swann, says cold weather at the start of spring coupled with a lack of rain in recent weeks means the number of mosquitoes emerging is lower than in years past.

John Swann U of C entomologist

University of Calgary entomologist John Swann recommends wearing long sleeves and pants to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes while outside. (Mike Symington/CBC)

"I think the technical term for the weather we've had earlier is, it kind of sucked. It's been cold," he told CBC Calgary News at 6.

"Mosquitoes produce antifreeze over winter. Once they come out of hibernation, like a bear, they can't do that again. So these really hard frosts we've had has put a damper on those mosquitoes. Now, the past couple of weeks in May, we really haven't had much precipitation, so it's going to be a lot of catch-up to get bad this year."

It's a different story in Edmonton, where officials say warm weather this spring could lead to an explosion in the mosquito population.

They may take some of the fun out of being outside, but mosquitoes play an important role, says Swann.

"Mosquitoes form a vital part of an ecosystem," he said. "They're food for other organisms. Without those, what would happen? It would probably be rather scary."

Mosquito on finger

We could see a much higher number of mosquitoes in the GTA this summer, and they could be hungrier for blood. (Dr. Burkitt-Cadena)

Along with leaving an itchy, annoying bump, mosquitoes can also carry diseases like West Nile, but that's usually later in the year, says Swann.

"It's in late June, July and August. That's when species that typically carry West Nile show up."

To protect against bites, Swann recommends wearing long sleeves and pants where possible.


With files from CBC Calgary News at 6 and Mike Symington