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July 26, 2021
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Abatement crews struggle as mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus multiply in Utah

Some abatement crews describe 2021 as the worst mosquito season ever in Utah as they struggled to push back the pests this summer. (Mike Anderson, KSL TV)

BOUNTIFUL — Some abatement crews describe 2021 as the worst mosquito season ever in Utah as they struggled to push back the pests this summer.

Crews said the high temperatures are causing mosquitoes to multiply.

The mosquitoes that breed in floodwaters are actually way down, as you would expect, but the kind that breeds in existing wetlands are thriving. And to make matters worse, they’re the kind that are known to carry West Nile virus.

On the southwest end of Davis County, abatement tech Trevor Larsen searched the wetlands for water, but had little success.

“It’s all dry,” he said.

But in the areas where there is standing water, the mosquitoes were doing very well.

“We’re seeing numbers now like we normally would in our peak — in the end of July, first part of August,” said Gary Hatch, director of Davis County’s Mosquito Abatement District.

Hatch said it could be an early peak, or a sign that a much bigger peak will hit in a few weeks.

“When the heat started to come on in May, we were very concerned, and actually started to see their numbers climbing,” he said.

Abatement tech Trevor Larsen searches the wetlands at the southwest end of Davis County. Crews said the high temperatures were causing mosquitos to multiply.
Abatement tech Trevor Larsen searches the wetlands at the southwest end of Davis County. Crews said the high temperatures were causing mosquitos to multiply. (Photo: Mike Anderson, KSL TV)

Many of their traps came in full.

“These are the Culex tarsalis. These carry West Nile Virus,” said Hatch.

That’s where the greater concern comes and that’s why their lab started testing early.

“We have detected West Nile virus earlier than we ever have,” said Hatch.

That could mean more cases of the disease, but is there also one more hurdle to overcome this year. Techs like Larsen have been doing double duty. Much like everywhere else, Hatch is having trouble hiring summer help.

They have been trying to make due with about half the staff they want.

“This is by far the most challenging year we’ve had — with the heat, the number of mosquitoes we’re seeing, and the lack of employees that we have,” said Hatch, who has been with Davis County for 27 years.

He said everyone will have to be more vigilant outside, using repellant, and if we can stand it, long sleeves and pants.

These mosquitoes, in particular, bite after the sun goes down, but Hatch said they are aggressive.

And as always, he said try to avoid having any standing water around your house.

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