As the warm summer weather returns, so too do the mosquitoes.
This year, however, there’s been a buzz around the presence of the pests – or rather, a lack thereof.
Some northerners have noted anecdotally that the blood-sucking insects have been less troublesome so far this summer than they have been in past years.
With a seemingly increased presence of dragonflies circulating in the capital area, a rumour began flying about town that the City of Yellowknife imported dragonfly larvae to help control the mosquito population. Unfortunately, a spokesperson clipped the wings of that conspiracy, saying the City “does not run an initiative like this.”
Taz Stuart, an entomologist who has worked on mosquito identification projects with the territorial government for over a decade, said the sites he monitors in Fort Simpson and Fort Smith are having an above-average year for mosquito populations.
Whether there’s any truth behind the observed decrease in mosquito populations in Yellowknife, on the other hand, remains unclear.
“It’s all about weather. Mother Nature controls literally how many mosquitoes we’re going to receive based on rainfall and temperatures,” Stuart said.
“What happens is, the rainfall doesn’t fall all at once evenly across the entire territory. Therefore, you’ll have one area get, say, 10 inches of rain and another area only get one inch. Areas at 10 inches with warm, hot summer may find themselves with a lot more mosquitoes than another area that didn’t receive the same for rainfall and temperature ratings.”
While he can’t give a definitive answer on the heights mosquito populations across the territory may reach over the next few months, Stuart said the current data available suggests they’ll be comparable to past years.
“Based on past precipitation over the last month and the temperature models, you’re looking at potentially an average summer for mosquitoes.”
At the end of the day, Stuart said it’s all about vigilance. He encouraged northerners to continue to protect themselves from mosquitoes by any and all means.
“Personal protection measures are key: using a Deet or Icaridin product, light long sleeves and pants, and don’t be out when they’re most active. Activity can be at any time, but just avoid their most active times, and that’s usually at dusk or dawn.”