Mosquito traps testing for West Nile set up heading into summer

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -- As summer begins, Public Health Madison & Dane County is setting up traps to look at the number of mosquitoes and test for West Nile Virus.

A good way to trap mosquitoes is to use dry ice, which evaporates and releases carbon dioxide to mimic somebody breathing

John Hausbeck, Environmental Health Services Supervisor, said that usually there are more mosquitoes in the air by June.

"There's been a number of people I've talked to that are just like, 'we got through a whole Memorial Day weekend and we had no mosquitoes,' it's kind of a weird year that way," Hausbeck said.

He said that the lower number of mosquitoes right now is likely due to the cooler temperatures this spring.

“This spring it’s been very cool," he said. "It’s been very wet, but it’s been very cool. And the water temperatures, I suspect, just haven’t been conducive to hatching out a lot of mosquitoes. So as a result, we’re in the beginning of June and I’m still not hearing lots of reports of there’s lots of mosquitoes out there.”

However, the slow start to mosquito season doesn't necessarily mean there will be fewer mosquitoes overall.

"I think that we're still going to be dealing with them, it's just a matter of when the temperatures start warming up enough that the water temperatures start to rise," he said.

Hausbeck said they are setting out two types of traps. One uses dry ice which evaporates and releases carbon dioxide to mimic somebody breathing. That trap also uses a small light to attract the insects. The second uses a tub filled with water with rabbit food dissolved into it to mimic the water conditions mosquitoes that carry West Nile look for to lay their eggs.

Hausbeck said mosquitoes that most frequently carry West Nile aren't as common in the local area.

"Thankfully, those mosquitoes don't tend to be in our area," he said.

However, that doesn't mean those mosquitoes aren't in the area.

"In most years we have one or two human cases of West Nile Virus," he said.

He recommended people use bug repellent and empty out areas with standing water around backyards and properties to avoid mosquitoes laying eggs.