Indiana floodwaters recede, leaving behind mosquito swarms

High water closed Homestead Road south of US24, Fort Wayne, Ind., Thursday June 18, 2015. (Samuel Hoffman/The Journal Gazette via AP)

MUNSTER, Ind. (AP) — Floodwaters spawned by Indiana’s record June rainfall are receding but have left behind swarms of mosquitoes now pestering anyone who ventures outside without protection.

Purdue University entomologist Tom Turpin said the blood-sucking mosquitoes that hatched in the floodwaters are out in full force aggressively looking for victims to feed on.

He said it only takes about a week after an area floods for adult mosquitoes to form and take to the skies.

“As long as you’ve got breeding sites, it’ll be a continuous cycle,” Turpin told The (Munster) Times. “Once it dries up, they’ll lay eggs again and they’ll wait for another flood.”

The explosion in mosquito numbers comes after a series of rainfall deluges hit the state during June, sparking flooding that’s now receded in most areas. The State Climate Office said Indiana’s average June rainfall of 9.03 inches set a record for the month and was the fourth-wettest of any month on record since 1895.

Although mosquitoes are now proliferating, eliminating their breeding grounds by emptying standing water in buckets or clogged gutters can help hold down their numbers.

Ken Severson, a spokesman for the Indiana State Department of Health, said that wearing light-colored clothing and using an insect repellent containing DEET can help keep mosquitoes at bay.

“Wear shoes, socks, long pants, long sleeves if you’re going to be out for long periods of time between dusk and dawn,” Severson said. “I know it seems strange in the summertime.”

The types of mosquitoes that flourish after flooding tend not to carry the West Nile virus, which is generally transmitted by nuisance mosquitoes, Turpin said.

Indiana is among 11 states — including Illinois and Michigan — that have detected West Nile virus in mosquitoes so far this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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