Humidity to bring monster month of mozzies

Japanese encephalitis spreads through mosquito bites and can't be transmitted person-to-person.

Japanese encephalitis spreads through mosquito bites and can't be transmitted person-to-person. Photo: AAP

Scientists are warning Australians to brace for a “mosquito explosion” as summer gets muggier and warmer.

University of South Australia researcher Stephen Fricker says humid conditions along the eastern states is providing a perfect breeding ground for the annoying and potentially deadly insects to roam freely.

“A wet spring and a wetter than usual summer is a surefire recipe for a mosquito explosion,” he said.

“You may have already noticed an influx of mozzies around the garden, or annoyingly, inside at night.

“While the weather conditions remain muggy, people should be prepared for a monster month of mozzies”.

The university runs a citizen science initiative called “Mozzie Monitors”, launching its fourth edition on February 14, to track and monitor mosquitoes in urban areas in a bid to predict and mitigate disease risks.

“Millions of people are exposed to mosquito-borne diseases daily, especially dengue virus and malaria,” project leader Craig Williams said.

No vaccine for most mosquito-borne diseases

The debilitating Ross River fever is the most common mosquito-borne disease in Australia.

“Evidence suggests that these mosquito-borne diseases could emerge and re-emerge in new areas in the future, due to increasing globalisation, human mobility and climate change”, Professor Williams said.

“As there is no vaccine for most of these diseases, the most effective way to prevent them still relies on controlling mosquito populations.”

Citizen scientists can get involved in the six-week Mozzie Monitors project by using a simple mosquito trap (made from two buckets, one containing water, and adjoined by a net) or via the iNaturalist app.

The trap catches female mosquitos who come to lay eggs in the water, but get stuck in the net, enabling citizen scientists to collect and photograph them and share their observations through the app.

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