Things in Edmonton are getting back to normal. And that means mosquitoes, too

With playgrounds, parks, golf courses and patios all beginning to reopen, Edmontonians may be starting to feel like things are getting back to normal. Unfortunately, normal for this time of year includes mosquitoes.

"The recent rainfall that we've had has definitely triggered a lot of hatching of dormant mosquito eggs, and then the warm weather after that has accelerated the development of those larvae," Mike Jenkins, the city's pest management co-ordinator, told CBC Radio's Edmonton AM on Monday. 

"So we can expect to see the reaping of that harvest relatively soon."

More than 90 millimetres of rain was recorded in the Edmonton area last month, compared to a mere 17 that fell in May 2019.

"Our mosquito population is really driven by rainfall. So if we get lots of rain, it generally turns into lots of mosquitoes. If we don't get a lot of rain, we don't," he said.

Last year, June and July were very rainy in Edmonton, with July alone seeing more than 160 millimetres of rain — "the rainiest July in about 40 years," he said. 

People are already most likely getting bit by the aggressive early mosquitoes that come out during the day then retreat as the evening cools off, he said. 

The city's mosquito traps are in place but reflect the situation from about a week ago, he said. "We'll have numbers building as we go forward. But they are climbing at this point."

Nathan Gross/CBC

With the next big outbreak expected in mid-June, the city is well into its three-pronged attack plan to keep the biters at bay, he said.

To target larvae before hatching, the city uses helicopters to spray temporary bodies of water in areas just outside the city limits, trucks to treat roadside ditches, and individuals wearing backpack applicators who head to industrial areas, ravines and under power lines.

Though mosquitoes are known carriers of blood-borne diseases like West Nile, Zika and some forms of encephalitis, they aren't able to spread the novel coronavirus that is behind the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Jenkins said. 

"I'm not a medical doctor but I know something about mosquitos and one thing mosquitoes don't have is lungs. They don't get respiratory diseases, they can't cough, they can't sneeze," he said.

"But for the coronavirus, there would have to be a whole chain of mutations that would have to take place before it could be transmitted by mosquitoes."