Mosquito Population Explodes In Many Parts Of Lane County

Jun 21, 2018

If mosquitos love the taste of you, this summer may prove a challenge. Lane County Health officials warn a dramatic increase in the blood-sucking insects could lead to a banner year for West Nile and other viruses.

Mosquitos like warmer temperatures and wetter conditions. So, this year’s short winter and intermittent rains have helped the tiny vampires find breeding sites where they can multiply.

Lane County's Matt Luedke hangs a mosquito trap in downtown Eugene. Once the pests are caught, they are sorted by species and tested for virus.
Credit Tiffany Eckert

Matt Luedtke (no relation to Dr. Patrick Luedtke) is an Environmental Health Specialist with Lane County. He and his colleagues have been hanging mosquito traps in trees since May.

“It’s a plastic bucket that has dry ice in it,” Luedtke says. “That dry ice emits carbon dioxide. And so as the carbon dioxide leaks out of the bucket, they’ll fly closer and closer to the hidden fan at the bottom of the trap.”

This simple trap can capture thousands of mosquitoes for testing.
Credit Tiffany Eckert

Mosquitos then get sucked into a dangling net where they stay until officials take them back to the lab and individually count and sort them by species. Luedtke says they’re looking for those that can carry harmful viruses, like Zika and West Nile.  

“The three species of concern with West Nile Virus are Culex Tarsalis, Culex Pipiens and Aedes Vexans,” Luedtke explains. “So about 95% of the mosquitos we’ll catch will be those three species.”

This is one of three mosquito species in Lane County that carry West Nile Virus.
Credit Wikipedia

Trapping season goes until mid-September when average temperatures drop below 50 degrees.