Significant rain brings more mosquitoes - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Significant rain brings more mosquitoes

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You'll see more mosquitoes after heavy rainfall. You'll see more mosquitoes after heavy rainfall.

MADISON (WKOW) -- The recent rain in southern Wisconsin has brought with it a familiar foe – mosquitoes.

“This year may was the rainiest May ever. And with all that precipitation, combined with the real hot period we had right at the end of the month, we saw a lot of biting pressure. A lot of mosquitoes,” said Susan Paskewitz, professor in the UW-Madison Department of Entomology.

These flying pests can be more than just a nuisance, they can also carry diseases like West Nile and Zika viruses.

State health officials have confirmed the West Nile virus has been discovered in Wisconsin.

“Recently we got the first bird coming in that was dead and then detected as West Nile virus," Paskewitz said.

She said the female mosquitoes search for a host, some kind of animal -- a bird or sometimes an amphibian or reptile that play a role in transmission from mosquito to human.

“In the West Nile case, it's almost always a bird. And so the mosquitoes would feed on a bird. If the bird was infected with the West Nile virus, than the mosquitoes become infected,” she said.

Female mosquitoes look for a place to lay their eggs. And if there's stagnant water around, some kinds of mosquitoes like that environment to put their eggs. So steering clear of standing water is a good idea.

Dane County has seen an usually high number of mosquitoes this year. Dane County Public Health put out seven mosquito traps in the several places around the county. Officials do this to compare the number of mosquitoes in the area by week and by season.

“We got an average of 1,600 mosquitoes per trap. That was about five times more than we had ever seen before,” Paskewitz said.

Paskewitz and her research team keep cups containing baby mosquitoes that were trapped. They're used to determine if any mosquitoes that may be carriers of West Nile or Zika viruses are in the Madison area.

It can be difficult to know if you have been infected with West Nile because symptoms are similar to having the flu.

“So you may have a very high fever, a little bit like having flu, just muscle aches, really fatigued,” Paskewitz said.

There's no treatment for the West Nile or Zika viruses.

If you're going to be outdoors, it's best to wear long sleeves and pants. But with extremely hot temperatures this weekend, it may be best to use insect repellent when you're outside.

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