Mosquitoes Beset Texas Town - Locals Blame Climate Change

James Gathany/CDC via AP, File

Nature isn't always nice, warm, and friendly. Nature is frequently unfriendly, in fact; too hot, too cold, too dry - or too buggy.

Everywhere has something that vexes the folks that live there. In some places, it's flies, in others, rodents, or cockroaches. In lots of places, it's mosquitoes. These bloodsucking little monsters seem to be everywhere, and humanity has been fighting them for millennia. The best we've been able to do is to maintain a holding action.

One place that's been having a problem in particular in 2024 is a Houston suburb, Conroe, Texas

Officials are pointing the finger at climate change as a Texas town battles with another spring of exploding mosquito populations. 

"If you open the car door to go somewhere, you’ve got 10 mosquitoes inside," Mith Varley, a resident of the Houston suburb of Conroe, Texas, said of the issue, according to a report in the Washington Post.

Varley, who has lived in the area of Montgomery County for nearly 10 years, told the Washington Post he has never seen it worse. While the area of Texas has always been known as an ideal mosquito habitat, flood-inducing rains over the last few weeks have given the pesky insects even more ideal areas to breed and spread.

Mosquitoes, as most folks know, breed in water. Anywhere where there is standing (still) water is going to have mosquitoes; here in the Great Land we're very familiar with the little bloodsuckers, and I recall from being stationed in Texas back in the day there were plenty of them in the San Antonio area in spring.

In this part of Texas, some of the local authorities are pointing their finger at climate change:

Max Vigilant, the director of mosquito and vector control in nearby Harris County, told the Washington Post that sampling so far shows mosquito levels comparable to 2022 and 2023, though it is nearly impossible to fully count the mosquito population.

However, residents noticing a worsening problem can point to climate change as the cause, Vigilant argued, noting that "hotter temperatures" are coming to the area earlier in the year, making it more likely to see a large amount of mosquitoes.

"This is the impact that climate change has had on Harris Country," Vigilant told the outlet.

Harris County hosts over 50 species of mosquitoes, the report notes, while the county’s public health department, where Vigilant works, focuses its work with pesticides on targeting those that can carry diseases such as West Nile Virus.

That's as may be, Mr. Vigilant. In addition to carrying a name that is very appropriate given his occupation, he is correct in noting that warmer, wetter weather will be conducive to mosquitoes and other bugs.

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Even so; how does one quantify the number of mosquitoes in a given area? The area around Houston would seem to be as near-ideal mosquito habitat as one could find, and while they may be having a warmer and wetter spring than normal, the data that is available, as Mr. Vigilant noted, shows no more mosquitoes than in previous years. 

Having lived in mosquito-ridden areas before, and living in mosquito-rich Alaska now, I can offer some tips to people vexed by vicious little bloodsuckers (I mean mosquitoes, not politicians) to lessen the problem: Planting marigolds, lavender, and mint around the house can help repel them. So can burning citronella candles. The best thing we’ve done to help us sleep at night without whining, bloodsucking pests buzzing around was to get all the old windows replaced with new, tight-fitting units with good screens. It cost a fair bit, but it’s worth it, and the new windows are also better-installed and better-insulated than the old, which helps heating bills in winter, too. 

Mosquitoes have always been with us. They always will be. Some years will be worse than others. That's no reason to lend the climate scolds any more credence than we already are.


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