South West Nova Scotia - If you’ve been on the receiving end of more than your share of mosquito bites recently, you’re not alone.
Despite the drought in southwestern Nova Scotia this summer, the mosquito population appears to be booming, judging by talk around the water cooler and on social media.
But mosquitoes don’t need warm, moist weather to thrive.
Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History zoology curator Andrew Hebda says damp and rainy weather is good to create short-lived pools and small ponds, but even in a drought “and a warm one to boot” there are lots of good breeding places for mosquitoes.
“All they need is some standing water… could be a kiddies back-yard plastic pool, a wheelbarrow that holds water, rain barrow used for water for the garden or, best of all, any old car/truck tires laying around,” he said.
Discarded black tires make great breeding grounds as the heat from the sun accelerates the life cycle. There’s standing water (it’s always difficult to remove all of it from tires) and the tire’s opening allows sufficient light to help algae grow (the larvae feed on phytoplankton).
Hebda says there are about 29 species of mosquitoes in the province and that some lay their eggs in salt marshes (salt marsh mosquito). Those are always present.
“So even though ground-water levels are going down, and pastures/meadows and natural ponds/pools may be drying out, there are still lots of places to lay eggs, and with the relative humidity staying high, it is not that unpleasant for the adults,” he said.
He adds that, fortunately, there are very few (if any) diseases that are mosquito-borne in Nova Scotia at this time, so mosquito presence is just a nuisance to us.
Hebda notes that bats and some insect-feeding birds traditionally use mosquitoes as part of their diets, but only to a small degree, so the absence of – or a reduced number – of those may be only a minor factor.
Did you know?
A mosquito can drink up to three times its weight in blood.
It would take about 1.2 million bites to drain all the blood from your body.
Female mosquitoes can lay up to 300 eggs at a time.
Mosquitoes spend their first 10 days in water.
Top speed for a mosquito is about 1.5 miles per hour.