As mosquitoes return, so do Zika concerns

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — If you’ve enjoyed dinner or happy hour outside this week, chances are you’ve also noticed that mosquito season is underway.

With the mosquitoes officially biting, experts are keeping a close eye on the mosquito population where you live to determine this summer’s Zika outlook.

“Here in Richmond we see about 22 days more on average now than we did in the 80s where mosquitoes can be thriving,” explained climate and earth science specialist Dr. Jeremy Hoffman with the Science Museum of Virginia.

The ideal range for mosquitoes is between 50-90 degrees, with relative humidity above 42 percent. So, with more warm days in the year, there’s more time for the pesky species to thrive, especially locally.

“The amount of time that the weather here in Virginia is suitable for mosquitoes to thrive is increasing,” Dr. Hoffman added.

And with talk of summer mosquitoes, concerns over the Zika virus are again being discussed.

The biggest concern for transmission comes from the Asian Tiger mosquito, which is also the most common nuisance mosquito across Virginia.

Despite mosquito season getting longer, state officials are seeing a decline in Zika cases here in the Commonwealth.

“At this point last year, we had 18 imported cases in Virginia,” Public Health Entomologist David Gaines said. “Right now, this year there have only been three.”

While it’s still early in mosquito season, officials say the numbers look optimistic for keeping Zika under control.

“So far, it looks like this year is gonna be lighter than last year,” Gaines said.

One last reminder: Asian Tiger mosquitoes live in standing water, so any buckets, wheelbarrows or grill covers that might collect water should be emptied weekly.

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