DES MOINES, Iowa — The tiny, vampire like bugs are a sure sign of summer in Iowa and they’re already biting.
“We don’t have screens on our windows right now so if we open up for a draft or anything we’re getting a lot of June bugs and mosquitoes, bugs in general” said Deanna Bowers.
Bowers made sure to put on the bug spray before fishing at water works park. She says so far so good, but her home is another story.
“I wasn’t expecting them to be out in droves yet, but they’re kind of getting to be a nuisance” she said.
If there’s any good news it’s that for now, that’s all these bugs will be. Iowa State Entomology Professor Dr. Ryan Smith says the ones out now can’t carry West Nile Virus.
“They will still bite you, whereas maybe later in the year as you get into the late summer that’s really the primary time where the mosquitoes that may bite could potentially transmit West Nile” said Smith.
Smith says the research team at Iowa State just completed a 15-year study of mosquitoes in Iowa. The findings show that western Iowa is at greater risk for West Nile Virus due to a higher population of mosquitoes that like to bite humans. Smith says even if you’re not an entomologist, there is a way to tell the difference between the Aedes mosquito which can’t transmit West Nile and the Culex mosquito that can.
“You can kind of start to tease them apart a little bit based on their color. Usually the Aedes mosquito are going to be a little more of a darker brown, and the Culex mosquitoes which can transmit West Nile are going to be a little lighter brown in color” said Smith.
As for how to prevent a bite in the first place, the tips from the Iowa Department of Public Health remain the same, bug spray and long sleeves.
“The one that we recommend here in Iowa is DEET. The reason we recommend that it not only repels mosquitoes, but it also repels ticks” said IDPH Medical Director Dr. Patricia Quinlisk.
Both Iowa State and the Department of Public Health say if you want to avoid mosquitoes, stay away from standing water like puddles where they hatch.