The CSIRO has warned Australians to be more vigilant towards our scantiest enemies this summer amid weather conditions in La Niña, mosquito numbers are expected to spike.
South and central Queensland have already seen the effects of widespread rainfall and flooding, and the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) says those conditions will persist.
Across Queensland this year there have been more than 200 cases of Barmah Forest virus and more than 770 cases of Ross River virus – both debilitating mosquito-borne diseases.
Now the country’s top research agency has released a set of practical guidelines to help reduce the risk of exposure this holiday season.
CSIRO scientist Brendan Trewin said there was growing concern that the little-known “grill stopper” mosquito might arrive in Australia.
There have been more than 200 cases of Barmah Forest virus and more than 770 cases of Ross River virus across Queensland this year. (Delivered: CSIRO)
The Asian species of tiger mosquito has been identified in Italy and the United States and has a habit of biting constantly – between 20 and 100 times an hour.
“There is growing concern that this mosquito will arrive and establish itself in Australia – it has been caught in mosquito traps in most Australian seaports and some airports,” said Dr. Trewin.
“It’s also on Torres Strait, but so far our biosecurity and health systems have kept it off mainland Australia.”
What can you do to prevent a mosquito rush?
Dr. Trewin said it was time to clean up your house and make sure your water tank is in order.
He said 70 percent of mosquito larvae survive to adulthood in water tanks – so homeowners should look for holes in tanks, as well as screens and gutters.
Dr. Trewin said 70 percent of mosquito larvae survive into adulthood in water tanks.Delivered: CSIRO)
“In response to drought and water scarcity, rainwater tanks have been installed in all Australian cities and these invasive mosquito species thrive in water tanks,” said Dr. Trewin.
“When you have a water tank, it’s important to make sure it doesn’t become an accidental breeding ground for mozzies.”
He said the main biting times are dusk and dawn, and people should generously apply repellants and burning coils outdoors.
Fans, air conditioners, and mosquito screens also effectively kept the insects at bay.
Why mosquitoes are more attracted to some people than others
Trewin said there was mixed evidence as to whether mosquitoes were attracted to smelly socks, but said they found the smell of some skin more attractive than others.
“This is likely a combination of blood, metabolic by-products and bacteria on the surface of the skin,” he said.
“For example, there are certain types of mosquito that love the smell of bacteria in smelly socks!
“That includes the dengue mosquito, which loves to bite people’s ankles.”