How the weather may have caused a spike in mosquitoes in Winnipeg

WINNIPEG — The number of mosquitoes in Winnipeg has spiked considerably in recent days, and heavy winds may be to blame.

According to the City of Winnipeg’s trap count, the average number of mosquitoes per trap was 101 on Tuesday. Ken Nawolsky, the superintendent of the city’s insect control program, said last week the average was about four mosquitoes per trap.

Nawolsky said the spike in mosquitoes has to do with the weather Winnipeg has seen recently.

“We’ve been pretty fortunate in terms of the weather – the amount of rainfall that we got has been manageable,” he said. “What has not been manageable is the winds.”

He said because there are not a lot of control efforts happening in regions surrounding the city, the heavy winds are effectively blowing the many mosquitoes into the city.

“We’re getting mosquitoes who are not Winnipeggers – they are coming to feast on us here,” he said.

Nawolsky said the amount of rainfall and warm temperatures in areas surrounding Winnipeg has led to more mosquito development.

He said crews are seeing more mosquitoes in parks and open-space areas close to rivers and bodies of water. The southwest quadrant of the city has the most mosquitoes in traps, averaging 195 mosquitoes per trap as of Tuesday.

Nawolsky said crews have been staying on top of larviciding in Winnipeg, which is why the jump in mosquitoes in the city had them baffled.

“When we started to see the mosquito activity increase, it really perplexed us,” he said. “We heard about the winds from Environment Canada, how sustained they’ve been, and that is the major factor that is contributing to this.”

He said if the number of mosquitoes continues to rise in the city, more action could be taken.

“We’re assessing it every day and, if necessary, we could implement a fogging program,” he said, adding if this were to happen, the city would make an announcement in the coming days.

For fogging to occur, the city-wide average trap count must be above 24 mosquitoes for two consecutive nights, and there must be one or more quadrants with at least 100 mosquitoes.

Nawolsky said Winnipeggers can help the fight against mosquitoes by making sure there is no sitting water on their property, such as clogged eavestroughs or birdbaths.

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