“The weather hasn’t been good for the farmers, but it’s been great for mosquito control,” said Anthony Texeira, superintendent of the Plymouth County Mosquito Control Project.


 

There’ve been fewer mosquitoes so far this summer, and you can thank the dry weather for that.


“The weather hasn’t been good for the farmers, but it’s been great for mosquito control,” said Anthony Texeira, superintendent of the Plymouth County Mosquito Control Project.


And while mosquitoes in Worcester and Brookline have recently tested positive for West Nile virus, a prolonged dry spell will reduce the threat of mosquito-borne diseases, including Eastern equine encephalitis.


Six people in Massachusetts became infected with West Nile last year.


In the past, EEE has shown up in late July and August. No human cases were reported in Massachusetts last year.


“Our traps are showing lower mosquito populations compared to five- and 10-year averages,” Texeira said.


In Plymouth and Norfolk counties, spraying wiped out many of the mosquito larvae that would have hatched during the wet spring.


That’s made back yards more enjoyable for residents of much of the South Shore, but people who live near salt marshes on the coast may not have been so lucky, said John Smith, director of the Norfolk County Mosquito Control Project.


Higher-than-normal tides during the Fourth of July weekend have caused eggs in soil around the marshes to hatch.


These mosquitoes, known as re-floods, are aggressive biters, Smith said. The number of calls from people wanting their property sprayed is a good indication that re-floods have hatched. Places like Adams Shore, Merrymount and Houghs Neck in Quincy “just light up,” he said.


Re-floods could also show up inland if a tropical storm or hurricane strikes.


West Nile virus is carried by a type of mosquito called Culex, and Culex mosquitoes are container breeders.


“They breed in places like catch basins along roads – places that are holding water because of the thunderstorms that move through the area,” Smith said.


Culex counts from traps in eastern Norfolk County have been fairly high, Smith said. The number at a site in Quincy has been three times higher than a year ago, he said.


Mosquito control projects can spray, but everybody can help reduce mosquito infestations, Smith said.


“The issue is eliminating stagnant water. That is the real take-home message for people with residential, commercial and municipal property,” he said.


Anything that can hold rainwater is a potential breeding place for mosquitoes. A few examples: a kiddie pool, a swimming pool cover, a car tire and an upside-down trash can lid.


To keep from being bitten by mosquitoes, the state Health Department also recommends:


Avoiding outdoor activities between dusk and dawn, the peak biting time for many mosquitoes.


Wearing long sleeves, long pants and socks.


Applying insect repellent containing DEET.


Robert Sears may be reached at bsears@ledger.com.