Feel like you've been slapping more mosquitoes than usual? You're right, and it's going to get worse

Bug experts are expecting more mosquitos than usual in southern Alberta this summer, and the conditions could be just right for the ones that carry West Nile virus.

'They're starting to bite people, they're starting to breed, they're starting to drive people crazy'

There were 50 cases of West Nile virus, which is carried by mosquitoes, reported in Alberta last year, including three deaths. (mycteria/Shutterstock)

If you feel like you've been slapping away a lot more mosquitoes than usual — you're not alone. And they're about to get worse in southern Alberta.

Bug experts say the region is on track for a lot more of them this summer because of the recent wet weather.

"They're starting to bite people, they're starting to breed, they're starting to drive people crazy," said Tadek Sampson, regional manager for Buzz Boss, a Calgary company that specializes in yard mosquito control.

"We haven't seen the same population levels that we're seeing right now and that is purely weather factoring in. We haven't seen this amount of rain followed by nice summer heat … which is perfect mosquito conditions."

Ken Fry, a horticulture instructor at Olds College, also says he is expecting higher than usual mosquito populations in southern Alberta due to recent wet weather in the region.

"I guess comparatively speaking we'll probably see higher numbers given the amount of water that's out there," he said.

"And especially with the forecast next week, it's supposed to be really warm, so we'll see a lot more development of those mosquitos, so you could characterize it as bad."

Tadek Sampson, a regional manager with Buzz Boss, says Calgary could be in for a bad summer of mosquitoes. (Jennifer Lee/CBC)

Fry warns that mid-July to the end of August is the highest-risk time for West Nile virus in southern Alberta.

And he said the extra water means there could be even more of the particular mosquitoes — called culex tarsalis — that carry it.

In 2018, there were 50 total cases of West Nile virus in Alberta, up from just seven the previous year.

The majority of those were in southern Alberta, with seven in Calgary. Three cases were fatal.

With files from Jennifer Lee


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