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Posted on Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 2:43 p.m.

Wave of mosquitoes prompted by late July rain making themselves at home in Washtenaw County

By Ben Freed

They love hot and humid weather, buzz in and out of our ears, and can be the bane of backyard barbecues. And lately, it's been worse.


Mosquitoes are back with a vengeance in southern Michigan, their ranks swelled by a perfect storm of alternating floods and dry spells.

“This is another batch of what we call summer flood water mosquitoes,” Dr. Michael Kaufman, professor of entomology at Michigan State University, said. “These bugs are the result of the flooding we had about two weeks ago.

"They take about a week or two to fully develop and start biting people, so this is just about perfect timing for them.”

The flooding occurred in the last week of July, when Ann Arbor received more than six inches of rain water in two days, and many other areas were similarly affected.

Brian Hayes of Sharon Township lives near marshland that is a traditional fertile breeding ground for the blood suckers.

“This is my fifteenth year here, and this year had been a very good year because we have a lot of predators that keep the mosquitoes at bay,” Hays said.

“But then in the first week of August we started seeing more and more, and then there were just a ton everywhere.”

According to Kaufman, the summer flood water mosquitoes will be around for a while. They have an average lifespan of about two weeks and can live for up to a month if the conditions are right.

Despite large numbers of mosquitoes, incidents of diseases borne by the insects have been low this summer.

Susan Cerniglia at the Washtenaw County Health Department said that while they don’t track mosquito numbers, they do track indicators for West Nile virus.

“Clusters of dead birds in certain areas can be a sign that the virus might hit an area,” she said. “We ask residents to report any dead birds, and there has been very little activity on our hotline this year.”

Last year there was one case of West Nile virus in Washtenaw County, and there have been no reported cases yet this year.

Kaufman said the summer flood water mosquitoes are not generally carriers of the virus, or Eastern equine encephalitis, another disease spread by mosquitoes. He did say dog owners should be wary of the bugs.

“They aren’t very dangerous to humans, beyond the annoyance of the buzzing and biting,” Kaufman said. “They are believed to carry dog heartworm, though, so pet owners should make sure their dogs are keeping up with their medication.”

He added that this time of year is when populations of mosquitoes that breed more permanently tend to increase.

Hays said he’s been seeing larger and more “scary” mosquitoes than in the past, that he believes he has identified as Asian tiger mosquitoes.

“I was out in my garden, and this thing came up to me and landed on me like a little helicopter,” he said. “It was so big I thought it was a hornet and then I was like, ‘Whoa! This is a mosquito.’”

Kaufman said this might not be the last wave of mosquitoes we have. More flooding rains could lead to another wave that could add to or replace the current swarms.

“Mosquito season can last all the way into October,” he said. “It depends when we get our first hard frost, that usually gets rid of them until next summer.”

Another flooding patter could start the cycle all over again. For now, area residents will have to slap on the bug spray and take solace in the fact that there are no heavy rains in the forecast for the next 10 days.

Ben Freed is a summer intern at You can reach him by email at or by phone at (734)-623-4674. Follow him on Twitter @BFreedInA2.



Mon, Aug 15, 2011 : 3:55 p.m.

I use Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE) for mosquito protection and love it. It is an effective and safe alternative to DEET that is recommended by the CDC and registered with the EPA. Cutter, Repel and Coleman all offer OLE based products that can be found at stores such as Wal-Mart and on-line.


Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 11:59 p.m.

Treetowncartel is right about the dryer sheets. You can rub one on your arms, legs, neck, and face, or just tuck one under a baseball cap or in your collar. I've had very good luck with them against mosquitoes, however the gnats and tiny no-seeums seem to like them. It's still the lesser of two evils.

John B.

Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 5:44 p.m.

A minor quibble: "whoa" is spelled, well, like that, not 'woah.' Also, 'effect' is a noun, whereas 'affect' is a verb. You can affect something, but something can have an effect.

Jen Eyer

Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 5:47 p.m.

Thank you. Those have been corrected.


Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 4:31 p.m.

Here's a useful article from Professor Kaufman on dealing with mosquitos at home. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> The County Conservation District sells a garlic-based mosquito repellent that you can spray around your yard and is supposed to be harmless to people and pets. Humans can only smell it for a short time after it is applied, but it repels mosquitos for much longer. I haven't used it, but it sounds good. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Asian tiger mosquitoes (Aedes albopictus) aren't much larger than other mosquito species. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> There are some insects that look like very large mosquitos, with long legs, but they are harmless crane flies that don't bite at all. Their larvae live in mud and damp soil, so you often find them in humid places where there are also mosquitos. Most mosquitos fly no more than 100-200 yards from the water they hatched in. We can do a lot to reduce the mosquito population in town by eliminating standing water, especially small artificial pools like flower pot dishes, old tires, and (a very common one) poorly-maintained eaves troughs/gutters. Bigger natural ponds have predator insects that eat mosquitos, but the small pools of water in our yards are great for mosquitos that only need a week or two to develop.


Thu, Aug 11, 2011 : 3:24 a.m.

Just a few hours after I wrote this, I encountered a genuine mosquito that was pretty big, maybe twice as long (body length) as the little floodwater species that is so abundant. Still, it was much less than an inch long. So yes, there are some bigger ones out there now, but if the body is more than 3/4s of an inch, it's almost certainly *not* a mosquito. Oh, and I think the big ones are species which have predatory larvae, they feed on other mosquitos. Unfortunately some of them still do bite.


Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 5:12 p.m.

Bravo! Thank you for bringing so much great information to this discussion. Yes, science exists for a reason and you've demonstrated that. Thanks for increasing my knowledge base.


Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 4:28 p.m.

&quot;...and many other areas were similarly effected.&quot; That would be &quot;affected.&quot; I remember the adjacent e's in &quot;the effect&quot; to identify the noun.

Thinking over here

Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 4 p.m.

What does this sentence mean? &quot;He added that this time of year is when populations of mosquitoes that breed more permanently tend to increase.&quot;


Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 6:06 p.m.

I think it's supposed to mean &quot;populations of mosquitoes that breed in more permanent water tend to increase.&quot; From a mosquitos point of view, there are big differences between a permanent pond or marsh (more predators and competitors, but relatively stable environment) versus temporary pool that fills up during rainy times and then dries out (few other species present, but not much time before the water is gone). Some mosquito species are specialized to mainly use one habitat or the other for breeding. I'm not sure why there would necessarily be more of the pond-breeders now, maybe because we've had warm weather long enough that their populations can build up. That would be true of their predators and diseases too though.


Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 3:27 p.m.

I noticed this too. Not only do they seem more abundant, I was ambushed earlier than usual yesterday. We always have a lot of standing water out here so I don't think the rains would matter but the little suckers are extra nasty right now.


Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 3:02 p.m.

Those are mosquitoes?!? They look and sound like pterodactyls! It's scary out there.


Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 2:39 p.m.

Twice-daily dog-walking is a challenge. I've had some success wearing a lightweight, hooded windbreaker (zipped up in spite of the heat!) AFTER I've sprayed its outer surface (hood, too) with Cutter. Also, you can buy special wipes which are supposed to be safe for pets. Still testing those.


Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 12:22 p.m.

Anybody notice more ticks than usual? The dog keeps getting them; seems different from last year.

John B.

Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 5:48 p.m.

Yes, the ticks are very bad this year. They are almost always not the Lyme-disease-carrying deer ticks, but they are still nasty. Our dog had two simultaneously earlier this summer. They've never been a problem before, but she is now on a tick-preventative in addition to the flea and heartworm meds. she has always used.


Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 3:30 p.m.

Yeah we saw at least one so far on our dog. First I have encountered in Michigan since about 1977. I hate ticks. Lived in Va for a while and they had an abundance of both regular and the deer ticks infested with lyme disease. Warning signs all over the place. Yuck.


Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 2:59 p.m.

Yep, the tick population is very robust. My dog doesn't seem to be bothered by them (thanks to expensive monthly repellant treatments) but we avoid Pittsfield Preserve and other similar areas because the ticks latch onto me and my clothes. It's not unusual to pull a dozen or so off my legs &amp; arms after walking on those paths.

Milton Shift

Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 7:01 a.m.

I definitely noticed there were more mosquitos than usual. Curse those things... Also: &quot;The flooding occurred in the last week of July, when Ann Arbor received more than six inches of rain water in two days, and many other areas were similarly effected.&quot; Should be &quot;affected.&quot;

Milton Shift

Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 7:01 a.m.

I definitely noticed there were more mosquitos than usual. Curse those things... Also: &quot;The flooding occurred in the last week of July, when Ann Arbor received more than six inches of rain water in two days, and many other areas were similarly effected.&quot; Should be &quot;affected.&quot;


Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 3:34 a.m.

"They love hot and humid weather, buzz in and out of our ears…" "'They aren't very dangerous to humans, beyond the annoyance of the buzzing and biting," Kaufman said.'" Is it just me, or are the mosquitoes these days actually non-buzzers? I sure see them and feel the dreadful little pests, but I maintain that I have not heard them in about a decade. Unless I'm going deaf. If they are silent, as much as I hated their appalling whiny buzz, it announced their presence. Silence makes them perhaps more deadly.


Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 4:25 p.m.

It's pretty normal for people's high-frequency hearing to decline as they get older, even if they didn't listen to loud noises when they were young.


Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 12:06 p.m.

I was out jogging this morning and they were buzzing around my ears. Of course, I couldn't hear them when they landed on my leg or arm, but I could hear when they bit my face. I don't think I've ever had as many bites on my face before...I look like a teenage with a bad case of acne.

Macabre Sunset

Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 3:27 a.m.

The owner of the restaurant I went to tonight decided to save a couple of bucks by leaving the front door open into the evening rather than running the air conditioning. Smart move. Made the mosquitoes quite happy. The place emptied out rather quickly, so I'm not sure the owner wound up as happy.


Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 6:20 p.m.

re bugs in Hawaii, you're mistaken, the islands do have mosquitoes, several species, brought there accidentally by European and American ship shipping in the 1800's.


Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 3:33 p.m.

Makes me long for Hawaii. Was there a few years ago. No bugs at all. Lots of restaurants with no glass in windows. You just have to put up with the occasional bird and those cute little lizards.

richard watkins

Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 11:05 p.m.

These are not ordinary, decent mosquitoes. These are Al-Queda mosquitoes, many of them professional terrorists on one-way suicide missions. I blame the Obama Administration, in this as in all things.

Urban Sombrero

Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 11:05 p.m.

They are nasty little buggers. And, like someone upthread said, they're incredibly aggressive. They bite through clothes, swarm and don't seem to be dissuaded by repellants. My boss told me (and, honestly, I haven't tried it yet) that there is something through Cutter, I think, that you clip to your belt that helps keep them away. He had great luck with that product earlier in the summer. I'm not sure if it'll work against these uber-mosquitoes, but I'm going to head out to Sam's club tomorrow to get some and check. Otherwise, the Sevin spray that you hook up to your hose seems to work well. At least temporarily, and in my yard.


Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 3:39 p.m.

I don't want to turn this into a forum for products, but I had great success with Deep Weods Off Long Lasting Protection which allowed me to work in the yard until after dark. But my Advanced Cutters did not work well. I did notice that if you miss a portion of skin, those little terrorists will find your weakness. A2, a friend had the belt device at the fireworks on July 4 and reported it works well. SPM writes the concerns I have though. Maybe they work when you are not moving at all.


Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 12:03 p.m.

We bought some of that cutter stuff and if it's the same stuff as the mini-fan that hooks to your belt that is suppose to blow Cutter out into the air it doesn't work if you happen to be walking around. I tried it and once you start moving around it can't keep up with you. Spraying myself with Off or Cutter works better.


Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 11:37 a.m.

Consumer Reports had an article in which I believe the belt device did not work. Deet is the answer, like in their deep woods line.

Mike K

Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 10:59 p.m.

It's bad, no doubt. I just &quot;reset&quot; my mosquito magnet, and what a mess it is already. I see a cloud around it. It's been three days now, and the trap is about 1/8 full. At this rate, I will have a record. It's a shame as the kids cannot go outside and the temperature is kind of nice right now.


Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 10:51 p.m.

I have gotten so many bites that my warts are almost unnoticeable.


Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 9:58 p.m.

&quot;...many other areas were similarly effected.&quot; When I was in high school I always used this acronym to help me remember: RAVEN - Remember Affect Verb Effect Noun.

Woman in Ypsilanti

Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 4:20 p.m.

That works most of the time but affect can be a noun and effect can be a verb. EG My good attitude is going to effect my positive affect. ;)

Atticus F.

Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 9:19 p.m.

Makes sense now. I went fishing last week, and was only bitten a couple times. I went to the same spot last night, and was bitten about 1000 times! They were biteing me through my clothes, and through mosqito repellant.


Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 9:18 p.m.

Just wrap yourself in dryer sheets.


Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 11:56 p.m.

Dryer sheets really do work against mosquitoes. However gnats and those tiny no-seeums seem to like them.

Kathleen Kosobud

Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 9:01 p.m.

The most useful information that should have been included in this article would have been: 1. Where to report mass bird die-offs (West Nile) 2. Where to go to protect your pets from heartworm, if you need low cost animal care. 3. Things you can do to lower the numbers of mosquitoes in your yard (sprays, fogs, drainage, etc.) 4. Things you can apply or eat to make yourself less attractive to mosquitoes. (herbal and chemical items) Thanks for pointing out the obvious--there are lots of mosquitoes out there and they won't be leaving soon.

Washtenaw County Public Health

Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 12:57 p.m.

You can call the Washtenaw County West Nile Virus hotline at 734-544-6750 to report dead birds or to receive general West Nile virus information. More details are also available on the Public Health website: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 3:13 a.m.

Sorry, not at all obvious. We came back from a week backpacking in the backcountry and thought we'd seen heavy mosquito populations. Then we went outside for a while back in lower Michigan and were astounded. Those gallinipper mosquitoes are amazing. My wife and I grew up in this area and northern Ohio, and we'd never seen monsters like that before. They were stabbing us through cotton shorts, and didn't seem to have heard about deet before.


Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 11:53 p.m.

Easy enough to do the research yourself with rudimentary computer skills.


Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 8:39 p.m.

This past weekend I sprayed &quot;Off!&quot; on my legs and pants (I didn't spray my shirt or arms because I have an infant that can't be exposed to the spray yet). It was like the mosquitoes were mad at me for trying to evade them because they attacked my upper body with a vengeance and we were literally running from them to get inside. They were gigantic...and so are the bites...I need to get some calamine lotion.

Jeff Renner

Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 3:13 a.m.

You're gonna need an ocean of calamine lotion!

Martha Andrews-Schmidt

Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 8:30 p.m.

We purchased and set up two Mosquito Magnets on our property early this May. They work spectacularly well on mosquitoes, black flies and gnats, and we have been enjoying the outdoors this summer!


Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 12:40 p.m.

Curious as to the operating costs of the Magnets, propane and attractant?

Jimmy McNulty

Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 8:20 p.m.

I found a spray bottle of mosquito control by Cutter that attaches to a garden hose to be very effective. Just spray it on your lawn and ornamental shrubs (not vegetables). Yes, I agree they are up sharply as of this weekend. Time for another dose!

Tom Teague

Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 8:18 p.m.

Researchers have recently announced that introducing sterile male mosquitoes into the environment might be effective in controlling malaria. After I was swarmed last night while enjoying the garden, I'm tempted to buy a tiny knife and a big magnifying glass and start modifying some of the little pests.


Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 8:14 p.m.

Thanks so much for this article. I was wondering what the H was going on in my yard yesterday.

vicki honeyman

Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 7:57 p.m.

mosquitoes are biting me while I'm cutting hair...inside!

lindsay erin

Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 7:57 p.m.

Wow, this article came at the perfect time! I haven't been outside at all in the last few days yet I've managed to get about 15 mosquito bites. I literally just sent an email this morning asking my sister to let the dogs out through the garage to avoid mosquitos -- I'm getting eaten up! :(


Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 7:49 p.m.

Sprayed malathion in the backyard. Need to do the front yard. Hopefully that will knock them down for while.


Thu, Aug 11, 2011 : 5:59 p.m.

Not the best idea. Malathion is VERY toxic stuff!


Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 3:34 p.m.

Spray away hamilton, there was a Lt. Governor in CA., a guy who lost both his arms in Viet Nam, who drank a whole glass of Malithion when they were arial spraying it to get rid of the med fly. There's still plenty of good bugs in CA but guy died about 10 years later.


Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 10:24 p.m.

Those mosquito repellant plants work wonders. I think. I agree no more pesticides in the air.


Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 10:05 p.m.

VERY bad idea! Malathion will kill all insects, including beneficial ones. This only makes sense if the mosquitoes are carrying disease. If they are simply annoying you, live with it.

Duc d'Escargot

Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 7:43 p.m.

Amateur journalism strikes again! In paragraph five, I think you mean &quot;affected.&quot;


Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 4:08 a.m.

Commas rock!


Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 7:40 p.m.

How true! I was attacked by a swarm every time my dogs stopped for their &quot;business&quot;. Not a good idea to swat at mosquitoes with a loaded bag.


Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 7:31 p.m.

Re &quot; no heavy rains in the forecast for the next 10 days.&quot; What about the 6 inches or more of rain that we had last night?


Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 7:27 p.m.

This is insane. We can't put our horses outside or even ride outside, they get attacked as soon as they walk out the door. Thankful for the indoor arena.


Fri, Aug 12, 2011 : 3:47 a.m.

Oops I meant BOARD my horse!


Thu, Aug 11, 2011 : 5:58 p.m.

I agree. The owner at the farm where I breed my horse keeps the stalls and the indoor arena sprayed down, as well as the horses. Great weather to ride outside...but it makes my sensitive mare (as well as myself) CRAZY! Hoping for an early frost, because these skeeters are not going anywhere!

James J. Gould

Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 7:22 p.m.

Doe anybody use prrtable foggers anymore? That always worked for me.


Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 10:20 p.m.

Mosquito nets work wonders.


Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 7:19 p.m.

Holy smokes - this article is right. The last two days, HUGE numbers of mosquitoes have emerged after a pretty quiet summer. You can't go outside without being attacked, day or night. They're even going after our dog bigtime. Time to get some mosquito repellant.

Floyd Griffey

Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 7:14 p.m.



Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 7:11 p.m.

Just a fun fact here...Did you know there is a breed of mosquitoes that only bites frogs?...Really.


Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 1 a.m.

Actually it would be a great joke set-up...but it's true, according to an entomologist I know. I don't remember the name of the breed, as I was busily polishing off a nice Margarita at the time...

Tom Teague

Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 8:33 p.m.

This is either a fun fact to know and tell or a great joke set up. So, I'll bite . . . what breed is it?


Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 7:01 p.m.

&quot;Hays said he's been seeing larger and more "scary" mosquitoes than in the past, that he believes he has identified as Asian tiger mosquitoes.&quot; I have a wetlands conservation easement in my backyard. I also had what I believe to be an Asian tiger mosquito in my house. After I squashed it I looked and it was a rather large mosquito looking bug with tiger stripes.


Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 3:47 p.m.

I don't care what they are, what they look like, I would like to know if they bite like mosquitos, cause I think I am seeing them too. They are huge. (in comparison to a regular mosquito).


Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 3:07 a.m.

Yeah, Mark's right. Never seen those monsters before. They were thick out by Chelsea this past weekend. And we made the mistake of watching Jumanji Saturday night. We saw those giant mosquitoes and thought someone had found the board!


Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 9:23 p.m.

No, the big mosquitoes are Psorophora ciliata.


Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 7:30 p.m.

Hmm, might be Ochlerotatus canadensis. Looks more like this one, actually.


Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 7:24 p.m.

I saw a strange mosquito today and (carefully) killed it. I think it is an Asian tiger mosquito. It's about 3X larger than the normal (female) ones. I found the stripes/markings on the legs more noticeable than the abdomen, as seen in photos online.


Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 7:01 p.m.

They have invaded my work. It's horrible! I walk out of work with at least 3-5 new bites. We're constantly slapping at them and trying to kill them. I'm about to spray myself with bug spray before I go in!

Marilyn Wilkie

Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 6:56 p.m.

It started Sunday. I went out to my garden to pick cherry tomatoes and huge clouds of them decended all around me. These mosquitoes are tiny, fast and very aggressive. Still today they are everywhere - out in sunlight as well as shade. My dogs and cats don't stay out nearly as long as normal because of them. Everyone at the hardware store had stories about how bad they are. I've never seen anything like this before.

Top Cat

Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 6:49 p.m.

When I went to Sunday School as a kid, I always asked the teachers why God invented the mosquito. Their answers made no sense and I told them so. I didn't do very well in Sunday School. And I still have no answer.


Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 10:20 p.m.

That wasn't god who made the mosquito. It was the devil himself to remind us of the heck we encounter when those darn things bite us and we itch for a week. Why do you think we run like heck indoors to get away from em? Just a thought.

Not from around here

Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 8:40 p.m.

same reason Dogs have fleas, to remind them that there still dogs.


Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 7:17 p.m.

It would explain everything if god were a mosquito ( a species that outlasted, and preyed on, the dinosaurs and will ditto to us.