Drought may not ease threat from mosquitoes

The drought, which might fuel optimism regarding mosquitoes and the spread of West Nile virus, may actually be promoting growth of the insect's population, partly because of the widespread use of open rainwater collection containers.

That's the word from the Marin/Sonoma Mosquito & Vector Control District, which has seen a more than 20 percent rise in service requests for mosquito problems this season, compared to the same time last year, district spokeswoman Nizza Sequeira said.

District field personnel also have reported finding mosquito larvae in rain barrels and other containers in use without the kind of fine-mesh screens commonly employed to keep the insects out, district personnel said.

The fact that heavy mid-February rains were followed by warm weather also accounts for a sudden and early mosquito population boom, Sequeira said.

"We had the rains, and it warmed up, and they just blew up," said Jeff Petersen, a vector control technician with the district. Since then, "it's been steady."

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