This season’s abundance of rainfall turned the hillsides bright green and sprouted wildflowers in the region; however, it also provided a perfect breeding ground for some of the state’s most annoying bugs.
“The recent rain we received along with the warm weather has allowed the bugs to emerge in large quantities in the spring,” said Levy Sun, spokesperson for Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District. “This year is drastically different than previous years with the drought.”
The most commonly seen “nuisance bug” this season is the crane fly. Also called mosquito hawks or mosquito eaters, the crane fly is actually harmless and only drinks nectar during its seven-day lifespan.
But, despite their harmless nature, several residents throughout the area have contacted the Greater Los Angeles Vector Control District worried that the crane flies are actually monster mosquitoes.
“People have called us saying that there are giant killer mosquitoes that are invading their homes and are causing a lot of panic,” Sun said.
Sun said the vector control informs individuals that they are most likely seeing a crane fly and not a large mosquito.
“Our rule of thumb is that if it’s larger than a quarter then most likely it’s not a mosquito,” he said. “If they’re smaller and biting then they’re most likely mosquitoes.”
The vector control has also received calls for “swarming bugs” or fungus gnats which are dark and delicate looking small flies with long legs.
“A fungus gnat is about the same size as a mosquito and also emerges out of damp soil like the crane fly,” Sun said.
However, the harmless and pesky fungus gnats and crane flies do not deter from the dangers of mosquitoes this spring and summer season.
“With the warmer temperature and the standing water, the mosquitoes are coming out earlier,” Sun said.
In 2016, a total of 442 human cases of West Nile Virus were reported to the California Department of Public Health.
With standing water remaining in buckets, containers and household items, the Greater Los Angeles Vector Control District is encouraging residents to “tip and toss” the water and its container before mosquito season hits it peak.
“The biggest issue that we’re seeing is all the tiny amounts of water sitting in people’s yards in containers that can include recyclables and tires and household containers,” Sun said. “Get rid of the water in those containers and then toss out those containers.”
The agency is encouraging individuals to throw away their containers to prevent against invasive mosquitoes, called Aedes albopictus and Aedes aegypti, mosquitoes, which can carry the Zika Virus and are found in Los Angeles County.
Sun said Aedes mosquitoes can lay eggs that stick to the sides of containers even after water is removed. These mosquito eggs, according to Sun, can stay viable for many years.
“These Aedes mosquitoes, they thrive on humans,” he said. “We are the prey and they are the predators and we aren’t used to that.”
Vector control is also encourages residents to empty out rain barrels, used to capture rain water, on a weekly basis.
“These can become mosquito farms in people’s backyards,” Sun said. “If anyone has a rain barrel, please empty it out in completion each week and do what we call ‘the barrel roll’ and empty out every drop of water.”
The same rules are true for residents who have troughs for livestock or horses on their properties.
“West Nile virus is a big deal, especially for horse owners, so make sure troughs get cleaned out once a week,” Sun said.
If infestations are reported and found in residential areas, the vector control will spray in localized situations like people’s backyards.
“But spraying is only temporary,” Sun said. “The only solution is to get rid of the standing water outside people’s homes.”
If residents believe they have a mosquito problem, they are welcome to contact the Greater Los Angeles Vector Control District at 562-944-965 and report infestations at www.reportmosquitoes.org.
On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_