Wet weather prompts start of salt-marsh mosquito season
The Department of Health is urging people to protect themselves from mosquitoes, as numbers are expected to increase in coastal areas following last week’s high tide and local rainfall. Elevated numbers are expected to start around 14 November, with numbers expected to further increase over the next weeks until the arrival of the monsoon.
The increase of salt-marsh mosquito numbers will occur despite recent mosquito control carried out by the Department’s Medical Entomology unit.
“This is the time of the year when rainfall and very high tides trigger extensive salt marsh mosquito breeding, the Department will respond to each significant rainfall event and high tide with mosquito surveillance and control operations to reduce numbers in the Darwin area,” said Director of Medical Entomology Nina Kurucz.
“Since July this year, the Department’s aerial mosquito control program has already sprayed 111 hectares of salt-marsh mosquito breeding around Darwin, with an extensive aerial spray of 322 hectares also carried out in the swamp system bordering the northern Darwin suburbs last week in response to the high tides on 5 and 6 November. Known mosquito breeding areas in Darwin urban, Charles Darwin National Park and Casuarina Coastal Reserve have also been treated for mosquito breeding in liaison with the NT Parks and Wildlife Commission.”
“After the Aedes vigilax mosquito lays its eggs there is only a narrow window of about three days to effectively spray the larvae in the breeding areas. Darwin is surrounded by swamps and with a flight range of over 50 kilometres, these mosquitoes will make their way into Darwin, Palmerston and rural areas from outside the extensive control area.”
Salt-marsh mosquitoes can carry the Ross River virus. The high risk period for the virus usually starts in December however it can be contracted all year around, which means those planning outdoor activities need to start taking precautions to avoid being bitten.
To avoid being bitten Top Enders are advised to:
- avoid locations near coastal swamps and mangrove areas
- use mosquito-proof accommodation and camping facilities at night
- wear light coloured clothing with long sleeves, long trousers and socks, especially between dusk and dawn in areas where mosquito are likely to bite
- use a protective repellent containing 20 per cent DEET or Picaridin as a supplement to protective clothing, with creams providing best protection
- use mosquito coils, mosquito lanterns and barrier sprays in patio and outdoor areas near houses
- ensure children and animals are adequately protected against mosquito bites.
Head to the NT Health website to view the salt marsh mosquito pest calendar.