MADISON — Lorre Kolb: Mosquito and tick season. We’re visiting today with PJ Liesch, Department of Entomology, Insect Diagnostic Lab, University of Wisconsin-Madison/Extension, in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and I’m Lorre Kolb. PJ, what’s the mosquito season looking like?
PJ Liesch: It’s always hard to predict exactly what mosquitoes are going to do in a given year. In general, mosquitoes have their life cycles linked to water; if we have a lot of rainfall, we tend, in general, to have more mosquitoes. So, with the rainfall we’ve had this year, I’m expecting we’re going to have a pretty good mosquito season. If things dry out later in the summer, that could have some effects, but I have seen in many spots in the state that mosquitoes have really popped out in force in about the last week or two, essentially Memorial Day weekend give or take a few days.
Lorre Kolb: So, what should people do to avoid mosquitoes?
PJ Liesch: There’s a number of things that folks can do to avoid mosquitoes. The first is simply avoiding times of days that they’re most active. A lot of our mosquitoes species, and we’ve got about 60 different species in Wisconsin alone, a lot of them tend to be active in the evening or early in the morning. So, during midday, we typically don’t have as many mosquito problems, but if you’re going out to a wooded area, you can bump into mosquito just about any time in the day. So, wearing long sleeves can be very helpful to physically prevent them from getting to your skin. Also, the use of repellents is one of the best things that we can use. DEET and other EPA-approved repellents can work, depending on the formulation, for typically several hours to help keep mosquitoes at bay and help prevent bites.
Lorre Kolb: What’s the tick season looking like?
PJ Liesch: From what I’ve been hearing, so far this year the tick numbers may be up compared to last year. It’s hard to tell exactly why; is that due a mild winter? That very well could be, although we just don’t know for sure. Now, regardless of whether it’s a good tick year or a bad tick year. I think we always have to be aware of ticks, because of the medical concerns that are out there. So, we always have to take the adequate precautions against ticks.
Lorre Kolb: And what are those precautions?
PJ Liesch: Turns out a lot of the precautions for ticks are actually almost the same as the ones we have for mosquitoes. So, avoiding bad areas for ticks, and ticks in general like wooded areas and tall grass. So, if we stay away from those areas- if we are in a park with say a mowed lawn area, that’s poor tick habitat; It’s too open and dry. So, avoiding good tick habitat steer us clear of them in the first place, but also using the repellents can be helpful, like DEET can help keep ticks at bay. Wearing long sleeve clothing, especially light colored clothing, makes it easier to spot ticks. Another important thing is simply to do tick checks at the end of the day to remove ticks quickly if they’ve been found on you.
Lorre Kolb: And what about companion animals?
PJ Liesch: That’s a really important thing as well, especially with ticks, because just like us, our dogs can come down with Lyme’s disease if they’re bitten by ticks. So, if you have a companion animal, you want to chat with your veterinarian and make sure that they are getting an appropriate, preventative flea and tick treatment so that they are protected against things such as Lyme disease.
Lorre Kolb: We’ve been visiting today with P.J. Liesch, Department of Entomology, Insect Diagnostic Lab, University of Wisconsin-Madison/Extension in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and I’m Lorre Kolb.
— PJ Liesch, UW-Extension entomologist and Lorre Kolb
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