ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – With monsoon moisture making for a record setting start to Albuquerque’s rainy season, there’s a good chance the metro area may soon be populated with many more of everyone’s favorite blood-sucking critters. Mosquito season is nearly here, and the City of Albuquerque’s Urban Biology Division says its expecting mosquito populations to ramp up over the next few weeks.
“I would anticipate the recent rainfall will result in an increase in mosquito populations,” Albuquerque’s Urban Biology Division Manager Nick Pederson told KRQE News 13 Friday. “Both with the more natural settings like the Bosque and Open Space, but also with the invasive Aedes aegypti (the Yellow Fever Mosquito) more throughout town.”
Not letting Mosquito Control Week pass by unannounced, the city is reminding locals how they track and control mosquito populations, and how people can keep their property as mosquito free as possible. Peak mosquito season in Albuquerque will come with monsoon rain patterns. So, Pederson anticipates July, August and September to be buzzing.
In 2019, high-water levels on the Rio Grande caused water to wash over the river banks into the Albuquerque bosque, making for prime mosquito breeding grounds. It’s unclear if that will happen in 2022 with a mostly dry Rio Grande through the city this spring. It’s hard to tell what a dry river could mean for mosquito populations, according to Pederson.
“If the river were to become low enough that you saw water drying up in pools and no moving water, that would certainly be problematic [for increased mosquito populations,]” Pederson said. “But if water is moving, even in channels, slow flowing water is not going to be attractive for mosquitos.”
Mosquito traps & testing
In the tracking realm, Albuquerque’s Urban Biology division uses mosquito surveillance traps between May and October. Roughly 21 of these traps are spread throughout Bernalillo County, most concentrated near Albuquerque’s mosquito capital: the Rio Grande.
The traps can serve as an alert system to the city for areas where there are high populations of mosquitos. Some of the mosquitos caught in the traps are tested for the prevalence of West Nile Virus.
So far, New Mexico hasn’t reported any cases of West Nile Virus in 2022. NMDOH says there were 33 known human cases of West Nile Virus in New Mexico in 2021. No deaths were reported.
“We haven’t had any mosquitos test positive (for West Nile Virus) this season,” Pederson said. “But it’s still early, we typically see West Nile cases in August and September.”
If you’ve never seen one of the city’s mosquito traps, they can look a little funky. Typically, the traps have a cooler of dry ice nearby to give off carbon dioxide, a natural mosquito attractant. They usually also feature a small light, a net-like trap and a collection cup.
Requesting a mosquito spray… or not
As part of the City of Albuquerque’s mosquito control program, the city allows residents to either request mosquito spraying for their area, or register for the “no-spray list.” No matter which side you fall on, spray or no spray, the city advises residents to call 311 for either service.
The city’s Urban Biology Division (UBD) advises beekeepers who manage or maintain organic certified farms to join the “no-spray list.” According to the UBD, “a buffer is maintained around the property as a no-spray area. This list is specifically maintained as part of the mosquito control program; other pesticides may be applied in the area by different agencies for different purposes.”
Keeping your home mosquito free
According to the UBD, mosquitos breed in shallow, stagnant water like ponding areas, unmaintained swimming pools and any containers holding water. It doesn’t take much water either. Pederson says a 1/4 inch of water can be enough room for mosquito to lay hundreds of eggs. That could be something as simple as a long forgotten kids toy.
“Think about a bottle cap on a bottle of soda or water,” Pederson said. “If that stays wet or full of water, that’s enough water to complete the life cycle of a mosquito.”
Other common items to check around your yard include rain barrels, tires, buckets and wheelbarrows. Any open containers should be drained and covered. Allowing conditions favorable to mosquito breeding is prohibited under state and local ordinance, according to the UBD.
The City of Albuquerque has a detailed FAQ on mosquito facts and treatments posted at this link on CABQ.gov. Here’s to hoping for few bites and a “hot ‘Querq summer.”
“Take steps to protect yourself,” Pederson says. “People can use insect repellent with DEET, but even lemon-eucalyptus repellents can be effective if they’re applied often enough.”