Bloodsuckers are back: Mosquito population set to explode
'If they can get a blood meal, they'll stay in your backyard,' says mosquito fighter Tadek Sampson
Buzzing swarms of mosquitoes are preparing to invade Alberta.
Within a matter of days, the biting pests are expected to take wing across the province.
After a spate of warm, damp weather, mosquito season is expected to arrive a little early this year.
Mosquitoes are prolific breeders and it doesn't take long for a few to become a few thousand. Rising temperatures could mean an explosion in the mosquito population.
"If it's warm weather, it can take five days to go from egg all the way to the point where they pupate into adults so it can happen really quickly," said Tadek Sampson, the buzz boss (yes, that's right) at Buzz Boss, a mosquito-fighting company based in Calgary.
"It's all weather-related so if there's warm weather and lots of moisture then there is a good chance that we'll have high mosquito populations."
Unless you enjoy swelling and itching red welts, now is the time to take precautions.
Your first line of defence should be a well kept backyard, said Sampson. Standing water — it can collect in old tires, eavestroughs and stagnant bird baths — is the perfect breeding ground for the pests.
Once mosquitoes have made themselves at home in your backyard, they will soon begin feasting on their hosts.
"Breeding is the absolute worst thing to happen in your backyard. If the mosquitoes are breeding there, they are most likely living there," Sampson said in an interview with CBC Radio's Edmonton AM.
"And if they can get a blood meal, they'll stay in your backyard."
'Mosquitos are like vampires'
To help keep the pesky bloodsuckers at bay, Sampson also suggests clearing out any dense underbrush on your property, and using a powerful garlic-based spray to repel them.
"We'll use a really strong repellent, it's a garlic-based repellent in those areas where they tend to harbour and hide out and that will keep them away for several weeks at a time.
"Mosquitoes are like vampires, they suck blood and hate garlic."
Natural predator control is an often overlooked tool in the battle against the bugs, said Sampson. He suggests Edmontonians attempt to attract mosquito-eating insects and birds, such as dragonflies, spiders and tree swallows. Planting garlic, marigolds and chrysanthemums can also help dissuade the swarms.
You can always lather yourself in DEET, but even the most powerful bug repellents are too weak to mask your scent for long, said Sampson.
Bundling up in a full bug suit be may your only true salvation from the itch.
"Mosquitoes have a sense of smell that's 10,000 times more sensitive than ours. And they'll use their sense of smell, their sense of sight and their sense of heat detection.
"It's the chemicals that come off of our body and off our skin that they're attracted to."