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Mosquitos Swarm Summit County This Summer

Mosquitoes carrying the West Nile virus have been found in the area.

Mosquito populations have grown exponentially this season, and experts are stumped by the flying bug invasion. PATCH FILE PHOTO
Mosquito populations have grown exponentially this season, and experts are stumped by the flying bug invasion. PATCH FILE PHOTO
Does it feel like you've been swatting more mosquitos than usual this year?

Well, that's because there are more than usual — a lot more.

Terry Tuttle, environmental health supervisor for Summit County Public Health, said traps set by the agency have caught huge amounts of mosquitos this year.

"I've never seen numbers like this," Tuttle said. "Not even close."

For example, one trap set in Bath Township in August caught 1,290 of the tiny pests. 

"Seeing 400 or 500 in a trap would have floored me before this year," Tuttle said.

Why so many? Experts are stumped.

"We did have some flooding early in the season that contributed," Tuttle said. 

Another possible explanation is that local bat colonies are being felled by white nose syndrome, and about 10 percent of a bat's diet is mosquitos.

Of course, mosquitos are more than just annoying — they can also carry West Nile virus, a dangerous strain that can be deadly.

Tuttle said mosquitos carrying West Nile were found in four off the seven traps set up in areas of Summit County this summer. 

It wasn't a surprise, he said. 

"We're going to find that every year, but we're not sure where in the county," Tuttle said.

The county's response is to spray a pesticide in a one-mile radius of where West Nile is found — the type of mosquito that carries the virus rarely flies more than a mile of where it was born.

But that's not hugely effective. To be eliminated, a mosquito must fly through the cloud of pesticide left by the spray trucks during the night. 

Tuttle said that method is effective if a home has a lot of vegetation. Mosquitos are notoriously poor fliers, he said, and need to rest often. When they land on a bush, the pesticide kills them, he said.

It's not known how many mosquitos are carrying West Nile, but the vast majority are not.

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