We may feel sting of El Nino personally
Climate is bringing a bumper crop of bugs

Sunday, May 10, 1998

Enquirer Contributor

DELHI TOWNSHIP -- El Nino has brought horrid weather the world over, and now it may soon be bugging us.

The area's mild winter coupled with a wet spring should lead to an above average insect population this season, say local entomologists, who are thrilled with the thought of flying, crawling critters being out in force.

"For those of us who look forward to it, we're already in nirvana," said Dr. Gene Kritsky, a biology professor at the College of Mount St. Joseph. "The spring insects are out and out in good numbers. It just means you get to enjoy more wildlife, up close and personal."

Mosquitos are already here, several weeks early. Standing water, easy to find now, provides a nice home for the flying insects, said Dr. Kritsky. The mosquitos will be particularly thick around stagnant water at dusk and dawn.

"We're finding a good mosquito population," he said. "The big surprise was that how many mosquitos are already out in certain areas."

Places that are usually mosquito-free in May are not this year. People who don't usually start slapping themselves silly until mid-summer are already feeling the sting, Dr. Kritsky said.

More ticks and some butterflies are early, too, and the wasp and bee populations could be above normal.

Expect more insects, but nothing not seen before.

"We're generally seeing more of the normal stuff," said Dr. Kritsky said, but "It's usual to get the unexpected."

Because of the light winter, insect eggs and insects that are normally killed by cold are surviving, said Dr. Kritsky.

"More of the insects are surviving to their next stage of development," he said.

"We're realizing more of the potential insects than we would normally see. All the right ingredients are here."

An increasingly larger insect population can lead to higher spread of disease, but Dr. Kritsky said nothing suggests that illness will be a problem this year.

As for pest control in homes, Doug Evans, service manager at Orkin Pest Control, said there is no indication that more insects outside will lead to problems inside. To help control insects, Dr. Kritsky said, homeowners should keep gutters clean and eliminate standing water from their property. "That can go a long way toward keeping the place a little more comfortable," he said.

"Mosquitos will not respect property lines."

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We may feel sting of El Nino personally