Albuquerque anticipating a mosquito-filled summer

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — They’re small, annoying, thirsty for your blood, and could play a big part in your summer.

“We’re seeing a huge number of mosquitoes already,” said Nick Pederson, an environmental health manager for the City of Albuquerque. “I can’t cite numbers, but just based on anecdotal evidence, our numbers are much higher than say last year.”

Pederson says the extra spring rain and plentiful river runoff is leaving more stagnant pools of water around the bosque. He says those pools of water are providing the perfect conditions for mosquitoes to lay eggs and quickly multiply.

“Mosquitoes need very slow-moving or stagnant water to complete their lifecycle,” Pederson said. “They lay their eggs either very near the water or on the water. Those larvae go through five separate stages and then enter a pupil stage before emerging as an adult.” Pederson revealed it only takes 7-10 days for larvae to reach full maturity.

Pederson compared the conditions to 2019 – when New Mexico last saw so much extra river water. He says like 2019, the city started receiving calls about increased mosquitoes in the bosque region earlier than normal. He’s confident more are coming.

“Fourth of July is when we see the numbers really start to increase is right around that time, but I expect people will start to see mosquitoes in June,” he said.

Pederson called the bosque pests ‘floodwater mosquitoes’ and added there is a second species expected to quickly multiply in neighborhoods across Albuquerque.

“We also have Aedes Aegypti, which are in the heights and in the far heights,” Pederson said. “Those mosquitoes are unrelated to what’s happening with the river right now.”

Pederson says the Aegypti species first arrived in Albuquerque around 5 years ago (they are prevalent across southern New Mexico). The more aggressive species is reportedly only attracted to humans and typically reproduces in small amounts of water found in containers.

“They’re looking for small pockets of water- rain barrels, bird baths, fountains, trash, even like cups or unused buckets that collect water,” Pederson said. “We can see hundreds of mosquito larvae just in like, an inch of water in a five-gallon bucket.”

Pederson says the Aegypti typically start reproducing later in the summer; however, he added the extra spring rain is leaving small pools of water in homes across Albuquerque – potentially allowed the species to reproduce even earlier. The city’s Environmental Health Department is encouraging homeowners to remove any standing water from their yards to block mosquitoes from reproducing.

“I saw it in my own yard, we have some green waste and some trash bags, and it rained and those trash bags collected water on top,” Pederson said.

The main concern regarding mosquitoes is their potential to spread deadly diseases. Pederson says the ‘floodwater mosquitoes’ have tested positive for West Nile Virus in the past – most recently in 2022. He says city crews will soon begin collecting mosquitoes and testing them for the virus. He says cases of the virus spreading to humans through mosquitoes in New Mexico are rare.

The Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes are more concerning. They are known vectors for Dengue fever, yellow fever, Zika virus, and Chikungunya. Pederson says there are no cases of mosquitoes spreading those diseases in the Albuquerque area; however, there have been travel-related cases in New Mexico. Pederson suggests those diseases could rapidly spread if an infected person is bitten by an Aegypti mosquito.

Pederson encourages residents to remove standing water and call 311 if there are serious swarms of mosquitoes.

As for everyone else – don’t forget the bug spray.

“They’re starting to impact everyone in virtually every neighborhood,” he said. “I think it’s safe to say they’re here to stay and are going to be impacting people.”