Southern California environment news and trends

US heat wave could lead to pest population explosion

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The heat wave currently gripping the globe is resulting in a myriad of less than welcome side effects, including withering corn crops in Europe, glacial flooding in Greenland to even death in the Midwest. There's more: According to the National Pest Management Association, the soaring, dry temperatures are ideal for America to see a boom in pest populations. 

“Insects are cold-blooded, which means that their body temperatures are regulated by the temperature of their environment,” said Missy Henriksen, the vice president of public affairs for the NPMA. “In cold weather, insects’ internal temperatures drop, causing them to slow down. But in warm weather, they become more active. Larvae grow at a faster rate, reproduction cycles speed up and they move faster.“

Which means perfect conditions for a host of pests including fleas, ticks, termites, mosquitoes, brown recluse and black widow spiders and scorpions to flourish in the coming weeks. What’s worse, the hot, dry temperatures will eventually drive those pests to seek out moisture and cool places to dwell — like homes.

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Mosquitoes in Southern California: What you need to know

Last week, Asian Tiger mosquitoes were discovered in El Monte. Native to Southeast Asia, the insects are very aggressive and known to carry rare diseases. Unlike their American cousins who keep to a cooler twilight, the Asian Tigers prefer to wreck havoc during daylight hours. 

Meanwhile, also last week, eleven mosquito samples in Burbank tested positive for the West Nile virus. A dead bird in Glendale was also found to contain the virus. Experts are calling this an epidemic year for the mosquito-borne virus. Of the 33 people who have contracted West Nile virus this year, the Center for Disease Control points out that 10 live in Los Angeles County.

So how best to protect yourself?

First, drain all standing water around the home. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in stagnate water, so be sure to drain any fluids in buckets, bird baths, flower pots and more around your property. Lyle Petersen is the director of the CDC's Division of Vector-Borne Infectious Diseases. As he told U.S. News and Health, “any kind of container can breed mosquitoes.” 

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