Tennessee May Be In For a ‘Mosquito Summer’ (250)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Conditions may be right for mosquitoes to bug Tennesseans even more than usual this summer, a University of Tennessee entomologist said Monday.

 Dr. Reid Gerhardt of UT’s Agricultural Extension Service said rainfall, warming temperatures, cutbacks in control programs and a new species may add up to equal more mosquito problems.

 “The conditions may change, but right now I am worried that we are developing the potential for a serious mosquito problem,” Gerhardt said.

 Heavy, steady rain this spring has created more mosquito breeding grounds, Gerhardt said. Cooler temperatures have slowed their proliferation, but temperatures appear to be returning to normal.

 TVA recently ended a regional mosquito control program it had conducted for 50 years but is training local governments to combat the pests. Gerhardt said it may take time to get the local control programs underway.

 Plus, there’s a new species to worry about, Gerhardt said. The aggressive Asian tiger mosquito first appeared in Tennessee in the late 1980’s. It may still be growing in numbers and could be worse than ever this year, he said.

 Gerhardt said more studies of rainfall patterns, different species, and mosquito populations are needed to learn how to best combat them.

“We can’t predict ahead of time how many mosquitoes there are going to be this year. There’s just too much we don’t know about them,” Gerhardt said.

 “One thing is for certain: we have a lot of rain and other factors that create a greater potential for mosquito problems.”

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Contact: Dr. Reid Gerhardt (423-974-7135)