Spring arrived last Tuesday, but because of the relatively warm winter, mosquitoes are making their presence felt earlier than usual. As a result, the Morris County Mosquito Commission is already at work.
Superintendent Kristian McMorland says the active mosquito season is upon us, and while the majority of the critters have yet to emerge, county crews are out in every town in Morris to keep their population under control.
"Typically, we don't get started until April, but because it's been so warm, we started at the beginning of this week. We are out treating early-season hotspots," he said.
According to McMorland, there are more than 40 varieties of mosquito that come out at different times of the season.
"So, we're targeting habitats that they target, like woodland pools, where they're showing up early," he explained. "The nice thing about that is that, quite contrary to usual experience, it's been exceptionally dry out there, so a lot of these pools and early habitats are pretty dry. Nature is helping us out this year. We've been able to get around and keep things under control."
McMorland said that one can never predict how summer will go, but his prediction is that this spring "may be not be too bad" when it comes to mosquitoes.
"Right now, we're in pretty good shape," he said, adding that the same cannot be said for midges and other flying insect that do seem to be creating headaches for residents.
"Unfortunately, though, they're not mosquitoes, so there's not really much I can do about them," said the superintendent.
The primary focus of mosquito prevention, McMorland said, is getting rid of standing pools of water and anything that tends to flood in the spring.
"They typically are in wooded areas, and once the trees start to bud, they draw a lot of water and then stay dry in the summer," he said.
Most of the commission's attention will go toward areas in the eastern part of the county, such as Parsippany, Montville, Kinnelon and other municipalities near the Passaic River flood plains.
"The western areas are more rural and don't always require as much work, but our crews will be in every town in Morris County," he assured residents.
McMorland said the county's citizens can be very helpful in the fight to keep mosquitoes at bay.
"People can have a big part in mosquito control," he said. "It's basically just policing your own yard and making sure that containers, bird baths aren't filled with standing water," he said. "In summer, a mosquito can go from an egg to an adult in a week, so that bird bath needs to be emptied at least every three days. Just dump it out. Make sure the canoe or the kayak in the back yard is upside down and that the kiddie pool is not sitting there full of water. And clean your gutters. If you see small trees peeking out from your gutters, you know there's water in there."
For more information, McMorland recommended calling the Morris County Mosquito Commission at 973-285-6450. He said updates and schedules for adult mosquito prevention and eradication efforts will be online at http://www.morrismosquito.org.