Nova Scotia

Get ready for more mosquitoes, warns scientist

A perfect storm of of wet, warm weather and a deadly fungus that is bringing brown bats to the brink of extinction means this will be a remarkably productive year for mosquitoes and moths.

Bug population rising after bat kill

Mosquitos are the most common carriers of the West Nile virus. Officials are asking people to stay protected this summer. (CBC)

A perfect storm of of wet, warm weather and a deadly fungus that is bringing Nova Scotia’s brown bats to the brink of extinction means this will be a remarkably productive year for mosquitoes and moths.

The province has been blanketed in a rain putting a damper on people’s summer vacation, but creating the ideal conditions for insect populations.

"The more moisture we have and the more habitat you have available the more places for eggs to be laid, so ultimately you end up with more insects," said Andrew Hebda, curator of zoology at the Museum of Natural History in Halifax.

Moisture is only half the story. A deadly fungus is threatening to wipe out Nova Scotia’s bat population.

"The sad thing is you may have to come to a museum to see bats," said Hebda.

White-nose syndrome, which causes bats to develop white patches on their muzzles and other parts of their bodies during winter hibernation, has been detected in Atlantic Canada. (Ryan von Linden/New York Department of Environmental Conservation/Associated Press)

 

White-nose syndrome causes the bats to wake early from hibernation. They can die from dehydration, starvation and exposure. An estimated 90 per cent of little brown bats, northern long-eared bats and tri-coloured bats in Nova Scotia could be lost this year.

"A female who is feeding a youngster will eat half her weight in insects each night to produce milk, because of course they are mammals," said Hebda.

"If you extrapolate that over the population we think we have that means they are consuming each year a total of approximately 60 metric tons of insects and if you think about the weight of an insect that is a lot of insects."

Hebda said we are seeing an immediate increase in mosquito and moth populations.

On a recent field trip Hebda could not count the clusters of moths, but "there were no bats whatsoever which is very unusual there."

Hebda said wet warmth and few bats will produce more generations of mosquitors. Related biting insects that only produce one generation a season will proliferate when they hatch.

"With respect to the black flies and the no-see-ums we should be seeing a big difference by next spring." he said.

To combat mosquitoes it's recommended people wear light clothing with long sleeves, especially at dusk and dawn. They should also use personal protection, check window screens and clean up any standing water sites on their properties.

 

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