Mosquito season ramps up in East Tennessee after above average rainfall

Heavy rainfall this year has led to flooding, but it may also be leaving behind an increase in mosquitoes.

Peak mosquito season in East Tennessee can pose problems for people in residential neighborhoods.

Byron Barnes with Barnes Extermination said the above average rainfall this year has given his business a lot to buzz about.

“It’s picked it up a lot,” said Barnes, “not only in mosquitoes, but other insects as well.”

Barnes said dark places like trees, bushes and shrubs can be a hiding place for mosquitoes, but to keep these pests under control, you don’t necessarily have to call an exterminator.

Mosquito control can be as easy as emptying and clearing out standing water on your property.

“Any kind of standing water can be a nursery to baby mosquitoes and it only takes as much as a thimble-full to breed mosquitoes,” said Barnes.

It can also be a breeding ground for viral infections and diseases. 

“The likelihood of getting a serious illness in the state of Tennessee from a mosquito is extremely rare,” said Dr. Reid Blackwelder, MD, FAAFP, Professor and Chair with the Quillen Department of Family Medicine at Eastern Tennessee State University.

However, that does not mean it cannot happen.

Blackwelder said two years ago, 22 cases of the West Nile virus were reported in the state of Tennessee and less than 10 cases were reported just a year ago.

“Usually three days or so after a bite,” he said, “if you have a fever, sometimes a headache or aching, those can all be signs of a viral illness and everyone of them sort of starts the same.”

Blackwelder also said if you have these symptoms, it is best to check with your doctor.

Another good protectant can be using repellents containing DEET. 

“20 to 35% DEET is more effective because it has what is called a carrier within it,” said Rob Horn of Mahoney’s Outfitters. “You rub it in to your skin, it has a chemical bond with your skin, therefore when you sweat perspire, get in a rainy situation, it doesn’t wash away, it remains with you.”

Horn said you do not need to cover yourself in repellent to keep from being bitten.

Instead, he said to use your spray or lotion sparingly, applying it around your waist, on your forearms, around your neck and on your hat if you have one. 

Horn said products containing Picaridin and Pemetherin can also be effective.

Wearing long sleeves, long pants and socks when outside is also advisable. 

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