Baylor Expert: Mosquito Populations at ‘All-Time High’; ‘High Threat’ for West Nile Virus

  • Duhrkopf
    Richard Duhrkopf, Ph.D., regional director for the national American Mosquito Control Association and associate professor of biology in Baylor's College of Arts & Sciences.
  • Mosquito
June 18, 2015

Professor offers eight tips to protect against West Nile

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Contact: Tonya B. Lewis, (254) 710-4656

WACO, Texas (June 18, 2015) — In Texas, May turned out to be the wettest month on record as Central Texas slogged through 25 consecutive days of rain, while state rainfall totals reached an astonishing 35 trillion gallons. Those heavy rainfalls have not only affected communities across Texas but have significantly impacted mosquito populations.

“Mosquito populations are at all-time high levels because of the recent rains,” said Richard Duhrkopf, Ph.D., regional director for the national American Mosquito Control Association and associate professor of biology in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences.

“The rains last month have given us larger populations than I have seen in a long time. The rains from Tropical Depression Bill will keep those populations active,” Duhrkopf said.

With the increase of mosquito populations comes the threat of West Nile Virus. Although it is impossible to predict the occurrence of West Nile, Duhrkopf said, current weather conditions may be conducive for the spread of the disease.

“You never can predict how things will go, but conditions are setting up for serious disease transmission,” Duhrkopf said.

Duhrkopf said that mosquitoes typically infected with West Nile need very dirty water, and the excess rain might provide that opportunity.

“The mosquitoes that transmit West Nile tend to breed in foul water. When you have rains like this, the foul water tends to get washed away. So, the incidence of West Nile actually goes down,” Duhrkopf said. “However, as the season progresses, the water tends to pool and get stagnant. That is when we see the increase in West Nile Virus. The sheer numbers of mosquitoes right now make the threat highly likely.”

Even with the increased threat for West Nile Virus, Duhrkopf said there are simple steps that can help with mosquito abatement. He offers the following “8 Tips to Protect Against West Nile Virus:”

Do…

1. Get rid of temporary standing water

2. Reduce breeding around permanent standing water

3. Keep artificial containers clean

4. Dry up natural containers

Don't…

5. Be outside around dusk and dawn

6. Let general household maintenance slide

7. Wear clothes that expose your skin

8. Go out without wearing repellents

ABOUT RICHARD DUHRKOPF

Richard Duhrkopf, Ph. D., associate professor of biology at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, is an extensive researcher with more than 30 years’ of experience studying mosquitoes.

Duhrkopf currently serves as regional director for the national American Mosquito Control Association, which he has been an active participant in since 1977. He has served with the Texas Mosquito Control Association since 1985. Duhrkopf also serves on the statewide West Nile Virus Task Force that is tasked with coordinating efforts and communications related to public awareness of the West Nile Virus.

In addition to his committee work, Duhrkopf teaches introduction to modern bioscience, genetics, biology of animal behavior and behavioral genetics. His research interests include behavior and ecology of mosquitoes, effective methods for mosquito abatement and mosquito larval behavior.

ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY

Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 15,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 11 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.

ABOUT BAYLOR COLLEGE OF ARTS & SCIENCES

The College of Arts & Sciences is Baylor University’s oldest and largest academic division, consisting of 26 academic departments and 13 academic centers and institutes. The more than 5,000 courses taught in the College span topics from art and theatre to religion, philosophy, sociology and the natural sciences. Faculty conduct research around the world, and research on the undergraduate and graduate level is prevalent throughout all disciplines.

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