Mosquito larva and pupa

Vector Disease Control International biologist Keith Broussard collects a sample of mosquito larva and pupa from water inside a tire in Metairie on Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021.

The weather is hot and wet and the mosquitoes are aplenty right now in south Louisiana.?

Each year, the state sees an influx of mosquitoes in early spring through the fall months, with numbers typically peaking during the summer.?

Louisiana has more than 60 species of mosquitoes, though the most common in the New Orleans area are the Asian tiger mosquito, the Southern house mosquito and the yellow fever mosquito.

Getting bitten by a mosquito isn't just annoying and itchy. It can also raise your risk for contracting mosquito-borne illnesses like West Nile virus.?

In 2023,?Louisiana saw 65 West Nile cases spread across multiple regions, including 46 neuroinvasive disease cases and four deaths, according to the Louisiana Department of Health.

No locally acquired cases of dengue have been reported in Louisiana in recent history, however, LDH says?the mosquito species which transmits that virus is present in the state.

According to the New Orleans Mosquito, Termite and Rodent Control Board (NOMTRCB), no West Nile virus positive mosquitoes have been detected in Orleans Parish so far this year.?

Here's what to know about the mosquito outlook for 2024 and how to keep them at bay.?

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A pair of Culex nigripalpus mosquitos as seen through a microscope at the Mosquito Abatement & Rodent Control headquarters on Wednesday, November 29, 2023.

New Orleans mosquito numbers

As of late, the city has experienced heavy amount of rainfall which often leads to an increase in mosquito numbers.?

City officials say they've started to notice an increase in the number of Southern house mosquitoes, including the species that is a primary carrier of West Nile virus. The increase is typical as peak mosquito season in Louisiana is usually from late May to September.?

But though Southern house mosquitoes are peaking right now, numbers are overall below their five-year average and below the numbers the city saw last year, Alex?Pavlakis, an NOMTRCB mosquito specialist said.?

To combat rising mosquito numbers, the city's mosquito board uses a variety of tactics for abatement, including fogging with adulticides to target adult mosquitoes and sending out mosquito inspectors to eliminate larvae in breeding hotspots.

New Orleans fogged in areas across the city on Thursday night to target adult populations.?

As for when the annoying skeeters will die down, that typically depends on the year and the weather,?Pavlakis?says.

In general, as it gets colder, the numbers will die down, which we all know is several months away.?

How to protect yourself and your home

Moving into peak mosquito season means it's important for residents across New Orleans to do their part to reduce bug numbers and keep both themselves and other from being bitten.?

The most important way to prevent mosquitoes is by dumping any standing water out that could be collecting outside of your home, according to?NOMTRCB director Claudia Riegel.?

Riegel emphasized that any little bit helps mosquito numbers in the city as a whole and encouraged residents to spend even just 10 minutes a week scanning their yard on trash day to see if there are any items that could be collecting water.?

Even small containers with water inside, like a soda can, can be incredibly productive site for mosquito breeding.?

And if residents spot any areas of standing water around the city the could be a hotspot for mosquitoes, they can call 311 on report them to?NOMTRCB.

As for keeping the bugs off your skin, bug spray long sleeves and staying near airflow from fans while outside is your best bet.?

Southern house mosquitos also bite in evening, Reigel says, so try to lessen your time outside at night.?

Additionally, if you're going on an international vacation, it's extra important to protect yourself from mosquitoes. Though there are no mosquitoes in our area carrying Zika virus or dengue, some bugs in other countries do.?

Here are a few extra tips to stay safe during mosquito season.?

Keeping bugs away from you

  • Wear an EPA-registered insect repellent when you know you'll be outdoors
  • Wear long-sleeved, loose-fitting clothing?
  • Spray bug spray on exposed skin or on top of clothes
  • If you're using sunscreen, apply sunscreen first and insect repellent second
  • Wear clothing or gear treated with permethrin if you know you'll be outside or prolonged periods of time

Preventing bugs at your home

  • Weather strip doors and windows and check for holes in screens to ensure no bug are able to sneak inside
  • Dump any standing water around your home, including in bird baths, buckets, trash cans and children's toys, at least once a week to prevent mosquito breeding
  • Flip over any items that could collect standing water
  • Scrub bird baths or any items that hold water constantly to ill larvae
  • Clean swimming pools that aren't being used collect water outside
  • Use mosquito fish in your ponds
  • Check and clean your gutters?

Email Julia Guilbeau at jguilbeau@theadvocate.com.