The East Baton Rouge Parish's Department of Mosquito Abatement and Rodent Control has been working overtime to combat a menacing species of bloodsuckers that have migrated to the region.
"They're not hard to kill, but they just keep coming," said Randy Vaeth, MARC's assistant director. "They bite day and night. We've had so many people calling and emailing us about them."
Vaeth is talking about a breed of mosquitoes known as culex nigripalpus, a usually Florida-based, dark blood-feeding mosquito of medium-size. Crews recently caught more than 6,500 of them in one of the department's traps overnight, Vaeth said.
This year's active hurricane season created what is now the department's main concern in terms of city-parish pest control. Hurricane Ida hit eight weeks ago, and in 2008 the Baton Rouge area suffered through a similar swarm following another major storm.
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The aggressive biters are potential vectors for West Nile and can fly up to a mile away from their breeding grounds, and Vaeth said that doesn't usually happen with the Asian Tiger breed that's usually more prevalent in the region this time of year. Asian Tiger mosquitoes can only travel up to 100 yards from where they hatch, he added.
"Hopefully after this cool front this week things will slow down with this particular species," Vaeth said.
MARC has had spray trucks out six days week in addition to three-day-a-week aerial spraying.
Monthly service requests for mosquito abatement are up almost 50% this year compared to the same time last year, according to data posted on Open Data BR. And those service requests a more than double where they were in October 2019.
Since June, mosquito service requests have hovered around 2,500 or more a month in East Baton Rouge.
"We've ramped up on everything we can right now," Vaeth said. "These fall numbers are very very high because of those record-setting rains we had. Really haven't seen things this bad since Gustav in 2008."
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