Weekend showers, a break, then mosquitoes
Perhaps the universe is taking pity on us. We face more chances for showers and thunderstorms through the weekend - and especially Friday night. But the forecast out of Sterling this morning calls for skies to CLEAR by Monday and stay that way, at least through Thursday of next week.
Temperatures, meanwhile, will approach 80 today, and stay in the quite-seasonable 80s for the next week at least, heating up to the upper 80s as the week progresses.
On the other hand, maybe the universe is perverse and cruel. Along with the warmer, drier weather will come mosquitoes. LOTS of them, according to University of Maryland entomologist Mike Raupp.
Raupp tells me that the rainy weather - 19 inches in two-and-a-half months - has provided abundant breeding territory in standing water across the region, and mosquito populations are very high. All it will take now, he says, is for the rain to stop for a time, and the weather to warm up and send the little buggers off searching for a blood meal. It's going to be awful.
Mike Cantwell, chief of Maryland's Mosquito Control Division agrees. He says the saltmarsh and culex populations he's already seeing on the Eastern Shore, and even in Central Maryland, are bigger than any in decades. Landing rates - the number of skeeters that land on Cantwell's crews' arms in an hour - are in double digits, some over 90 per hour.
I peered into the flower pot trays on our patio last weekend and saw more wriggling mosquito larvae than I have ever seen, so I believe him. And while mosquitoes find me unappealing (can't remember the last time I was bitten), they love my wife (and so do I). So I dumped the water from the trays, and will continue to monitor them for new larvae.
It takes no more water than a bottle cap for mosquitoes to get their start in your back yard. So take some time to search out any potential containers, dump them out, turn them over or get rid of them. And get your neighbors to do the same, or your efforts will be in vain.
Mosquitoes already eating you alive? Leave a comment and tell us what your're experiencing, where you are and when they're biting.
Remember, the Asian tiger mosquito, an invasive species introduced to the U.S. in the 1980s, has become the prime mosquito pest in urban parts of the Baltimore region. It is well-adapted to the human environment and is a persistent daytime biter. So while we can stay indoors morning and evening when other species bite, it's harder to avoid being outdoors, in the yard, during the day. They are miserable pests.
(SUN PHOTO/Nanine Hartzenbusch 2001)