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Crookston Times - Crookston, MN
  • Mosquitoes are coming, despite Minn. cold spring

  • The overall mosquito population will have more to do with how much rain Minnesota gets in the next few weeks.
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  • Despite a colder than normal early spring, Minnesotans likely won't get a break from mosquitoes this year.
    Executive Director Jim Stark of the Metropolitan Mosquito Control District told Minnesota Public Radio News (http://bit.ly/Z3pGg2) for a story Wednesday that mosquitoes will simply start showing up a little later than usual.
    Last year, when the late winter was warmer, Minnesotans began noticing mosquitoes by mid- to late May. But Stark says that doesn't translate to a significantly late start for mosquitoes this year.
    The overall mosquito population will have more to do with how much rain Minnesota gets in the next few weeks, Stark said. Meanwhile, he recommends getting rid of mosquito breeding grounds, such standing water in bird baths and old tires.
    The news about ticks isn't much better. The Minnesota Department of Health already received reports of blacklegged ticks, formerly called deer ticks.
    As soon as the snow melts, Minnesotans should protect themselves from ticks when walking around in wooded areas, said David Neitzel, an epidemiologist for the health department specializing in tick and mosquito-borne diseases.
    "Their activity depends on the temperature," Neitzel said, adding that the ticks just go dormant when it's cold, unlike mosquitoes that die out when there's a frost.
    But Neitzel said the cold early spring could help delay the mosquito-borne West Nile virus. The virus needs long periods of hot, dry weather to thrive, like what Minnesota saw last year.
    "It did turn out to be an outbreak year," Neitzel said. "The shorter the growing season, the lower the risk."

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