by Phillip Manning ~ June 18th, 2013
This summer has brought sunshine, warmth, and a seemingly endless swarm of mosquitos. Anecdotal evidence would suggest that this is a particularly bad year for the winged menace, but Janice Chumley of the Cooperative Extension Service of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, says that it’s not unusual to have as many mosquitos as are buzzing around this year. She says that the previous two years did not have favorable overwintering conditions, so populations were small. The abundant water and late snow blanket provided by this year’s late thaw, however, provided excellent conditions for the mosquito eggs to survive and hatch in the summer.
Hard facts on mosquito numbers are not readily available, as there is a lack of scientific data to confirm what the mosquito population is in any given year, as Matt Bowser, entomologist at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge explains.
Bowser has done some informal research on test subjects obtained when mosquitos attempt to bite him, however, and he says there may be some hope for a less itchy late summer.
With reports of bug spray shortages from across the state, preparation becomes important. Janice Chumley recommends doing things outside when it’s warm and breezy, and Matt Bowser always does his field work with a netted hat to keep the mosquitos away. Derek Sikes, Insect Curator for the Museum of the North, explains why doing things in an open, sunny area may help.
None of the experts I spoke to had a definitive answer for keeping yourself mosquito-free, though Derek Sikes did jokingly provide one solution that might work.
It should be noted, however, that he only goes so far as to say they “might” leave you alone.