Flathead Co. reports abnormal number of mosquitoes


KALISPELL, Mont. - In Flathead County, Health Department mosquito experts are telling NBC Montana they're seeing more mosquitoes than ever. It's unusual for this time of year. The mosquitoes are hatching early.

This comes on the heels of disease-carrying mosquitoes culex tarsalis, which are set to emerge in the coming weeks.

Jake Rubow is a mosquito expert with the Health Department. He spent his day analyzing and controlling mosquito larvae samples in the southern valley.

Rubow said the department is "trying to find larvae in the water and treat the mosquitoes in the larval stage. It's much more efficient. "

The department uses a chemical called bacillus thuringiensis subspecies israelensis (BTI) and methoprene to control the larvae. Rubow says if they wait for the mosquitoes to become adults they'll have to use a higher concentration of the chemical.

He says the department is most concerned with the disease-carrying mosquitoes known to transmit the West Nile virus.

Between the years 2003 and 2015 there were 559 cases of West Nile human infections in Montana, or about 43 per year. Rubow says the reason there are so many more mosquitoes this year is the excess amount of standing water. After a snowy winter and wet spring the valley has an abundance of standing water, and that means more mosquitoes.

According to Rubow, "The problem with mosquitoes is that their eggs can actually go through a drying process, lying dormant for years. We're seeing areas filled with water that we haven't seen for years and years, and they're producing mosquitoes too."

Right now the county has over 2,100 sites they're inspecting.

Rubow hopes they'll get help from residents. He says people can do their part around their home by checking clogged drain gutters, tarps and old tires. Anything that can hold even a small amount of water will produce a lot of mosquitoes.

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