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Mosquito bite

Mosquito season runs from late-May to the first frost in the fall, but most mosquitoes that bite humans in Wisconsin aren't likely to carry diseases.

Q: What is done in Dane County to keep away mosquitoes?

A: It’s almost summer, and mosquitoes are again upon us.

As much as they are a pest, John Hausbeck, an environmental health services supervisor at Public Health Madison and Dane County, said his organization doesn’t work as nuisance control, but rather treats areas where illness-spreading mosquitoes are found.

Public Health doesn’t have the resources or staff to work as pest control, Hausbeck said. Instead, it works to tamp down species of mosquitoes known to carry diseases such as West Nile Virus.

Public Health staff regularly monitor bodies of water at publicly owned locations to determine breeding locations for the Culex and Aedes genera of mosquitoes. When a significant number of larvae are found at a site — which could be a creek, marsh, flooded ditch or other area — a pesticide is added to the water, Hausbeck said.

Some consideration is given to reducing standing water in these areas, Hausbeck said, but having ditches and ponds that collect water has an environmental benefit to the lakes.

Some ditches and ponds keep debris and pollutants from being washed into rivers and lakes.

“There is a balance that needs to be struck between preventing mosquito breeding and improving water quality,” Hausbeck said.

The majority of mosquitoes in Dane County that bite humans are not likely to be carrying diseases, Hausbeck said. The Culex mosquito that can carry West Nile Virus generally bites birds, he said.

Another mosquito that has been found in the county, Aedes albopictus, can carry a number of diseases that are typically rare in Wisconsin, Hausbeck said.

“We are working to determine if this mosquito is over-wintering here or being carried in from out of state,” Hausbeck said.

— Shelley K. Mesch

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Shelley K. Mesch is a general assignment reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal. She earned a degree in journalism from DePaul University.