It's been a strange year for mosquitoes, according to the City of Edmonton's mosquito expert Mike Jenkins.
"Overall, the mosquito population this year has been a little bit unusual," Jenkins said Thursday, referring to the timing of this spring's mosquito hordes.
According to Jenkins, there are typically four waves of mosquitoes that hit the city every summer. The earliest wave — the large, slow mosquitoes that survived the winter — are quickly wiped out.
The next wave are the aggressive daytime biters, and the reason why many Edmontonians found themselves swatting more than usual this month.
"This year, because of the delayed spring, those aggressive daytime biters showed up in mid-May rather than early May, right at a time when the temperatures were right for them to be really active. So they definitely made their presence known in a larger proportion than their population might warrant," said Jenkins.
The city uses light traps to measure the total size of the mosquito population.
"By counting the mosquitoes that are in those traps, we're able to get an approximation of the active population from week to week."
"In general, our light trap numbers are quite low this year," said Jenkins, adding that the late-hatching daytime biters aren't attracted to the traps, which turn on at dusk and run through the night.
But there are fewer of the daytime pests out now than there were a week ago, he said. Jenkins expects the next major wave of mosquitoes to strike in late June or early July. These will be the mosquitoes most recognizable to Edmontonians — the tiny, fast critters that attack during evening picnics or early morning walks.
In the meantime, Jenkins said the city will continue its efforts to keep the biting bugs at bay — including monitoring water levels, screening for larvae and spraying when larvae are discovered.
Jenkins said, so far, the city has been successful in keeping the mosquito population under control.
As for predicting what this summer will hold, Jenkins refused to bite, saying it all boils down to precipitation and timing.
The city budgets $1.2 million annually for mosquito control.