The South Dakota health department is reminding people to take steps to reduce the risk of getting West Nile this year as the mosquito population increases.
Brown County is the state’s historically hardest hit county. Aberdeen officials are already seeing more than twice the number of mosquitoes in traps than they’d like to see. Crews will spray citywide for the first time Thursday.
“We’re averaging around 260 mosquitoes per trap and 100 is our level,” parks superintendent Mark Hoven said.
Hoven says the bulk of those bugs so far are nuisance mosquitoes, not the kind that carry West Nile. Still, the city is actively fighting them and has been for weeks, Hoven said.
"I'm glad because they are definitely very pesky things and they've definitely been bothersome," Joy Robey said.
Robey runs a day care in Aberdeen and says she’s already started the routine of covering kids with bug spray to protect them. She started noticing more mosquitoes and kids coming in with bug bites despite being sprayed within the past two weeks.
"I don't remember it being this bad last year around this time," Robey said.
She's right. They city’s bug battle is about a month ahead of schedule compared with last year, Hoven said. Crews with Aberdeen Mosquito Control have been treating standing water since April and recently started spraying targeted areas such as parks.
"We just want to get those numbers knocked down hopefully and catch some of those adults. We know that another week from now we've got more rain coming for the weekend. It'll just generate more breeding grounds for us," Hoven said.
Thursday’s citywide spaying event comes about three weeks sooner than last year’s. He says moisture this spring followed by hot weather is contributing to the quick start.
"Anticipate if the rain keeps coming and the moisture keeps coming, it'll be the first of many to come," Hoven said.
Other cities are ramping up for a bug battle, too.
Huron is starting to see more mosquitoes. Crews have been treating standing water and will start Thursday spraying targeted areas that host outdoor events.
Watertown is trapping and monitoring the bugs but officials are waiting to spray until they find mosquitoes that can carry West Nile.
Mitchell just started trapping and isn't seeing a lot of activity yet. Still, crews are treating standing water in the city and just outside of town.
Sioux Falls started trapping within the past two weeks. It's not seeing the high number of nuisance mosquitoes like Aberdeen. Still, city officials are already seeing the types of mosquitoes in traps that can carry West Nile.