Mosquito season starts early

TRI-CITIES, Wash. - This extra hot spring means mosquito seson has started early. Crews began spraying already this week. KEPR looked at what this weather means for controlling mosquitoes in the Tri-Cities.

Norine Bell brings her grandkids to Howard Amon at least once a week. But after her grandson was recently bitten by a mosquito this early in the season she is cautious.

"Just worry a little bit, put some sun spray on them and that will help, but we don't know what else to do," said grandmother Norine Bell.

The Benton-Franklin Mosquito Control says the pest population is under control, but they are surprised with what they have seen.

"The life cycle is shortened because they are very dependant on water temperatures, so we may see a quicker turnover rate of the mosquitoes," said Kevin Shoemaker.

Meaning mosquito season has started early. Since the snow is melting at a quicker pace, the river height is rising along with the temperatures. Traps placed near the merging of the Yakima and Columbia have caught full adult mosquitoes.

"We are doing more at an earlier pace, then we normally would," said Shoemaker.

The river could rise another three feet in the next week. Generally, the season begins in late May to early June. Action News learned this early season could mean a greater risk for the spread of disease such as the West Nile Virus.

"We are spraying, we are treating water sites, checking water sites for adult mosquitoes to determine population and species," said Shoemaker.

The District usually relies on hiring college students during the summer. Since many aren't yet out of school they're casting a wider net.

"We are a little short-handed so we are expecting more from our workers to cover more areas and check more places," said Shoemaker.

Mosquitoes tend to appear around river fronts and ponds. For grandmothers like Norine she can't wait for other options.

"When the pool opens, they won't be going down to the river," said Bell.

Last year there were two reported cases of West Nile in our region. One was in Benton County and one in Yakima County.