Mosquito numbers are on the rise across Brisbane. Find out what’s being done about it and how you can protect yourself.
If you feel like your blood’s being sucked out by unwanted visitors, take heart that a vampire clan hasn’t taken up residence in town just yet.
Rather, Brisbane is experiencing an increase in mosquito numbers, and Brisbane City Council is taking active steps to keep them under control.
According to Brisbane City Council Medical Entomologist Mike Muller, heavy rain and tide events starting from mid-November are to blame for the increase in mosquito numbers, with low lying areas in Brisbane becoming flooded and creating ideal laying and hatching environments.
“It’s definitely an increasing problem at the moment and one we are dealing with,” he says. “The numbers we are dealing with are quite extraordinary and it is hard to predict how things will go.
“Suburbs and areas around the wetlands will be most affected. Areas around Bracken Ridge and Boondall and out near the airport. The spray we are using targets larvae, rather than adult mosquitoes, and is environmentally friendly so as not to harm other wildlife.
Brisbane City Council is carrying out mosquito spraying after rain and king tides, using products designed to kill mosquito larvae but no other marine life. In an average year, more than 20,000 hectares of coastal saltmarsh land can be treated by helicopters. Ground staff are using quad bikes, four wheel drive trucks and going out on foot work to control mosquitoes.
According to Mueller, saltmarsh mosquitoes are the main problem and the alarming rate at which they reproduce makes it difficult to control their numbers.
“Saltmarsh mosquitos are the worst pests in Brisbane,” he says.”Millions of them hatch at a time, they can literally go from nothing to millions in 48 hours. Their eggs are drought resistant and are able to survive for weeks or even months before hatching. Then millions of eggs will hatch simultaneously after flooding.”
The saltmarsh mosquito is also Brisbane’s most significant problem mosquito due to the mobility of the adult mosquitoes, which can spread up to 10 kilometres in pest numbers.They also have the ability to carry Ross River and Barmah Forest diseases. While no increase in mosquito born viruses has been detected, both Queensland Health and Brisbane City Council are monitoring the situation in case it changes.
Muller said another high tide event is set to take place around 21 January and will see Brisbane areas flood again. Allowing the mosquito problem to likely stretch through until May.
What you can do to protect yourself from mosquitoes
- Limit your time in mosquito-plagued areas, especially around dawn and dusk.
- Use repellents. Mike Muller recommends those that contain deet and picaridin.
- Wear loose fitting, light coloured clothing that covers you as much as possible.
- Use mosquito nets and screens.
- Use mosquito coils and lanterns.
- Empty water from pot plant bases every week or fill the base with sand.
- Fill self-watering pot cavities with sand or cover the watering hole.
- Remove or cover all other items and containers that hold water.
- Drain and cover boats and canoes.
- Effectively screen rainwater tanks
- Always replace screens after removal.
- Keep your swimming pool chlorinated.
- Trim trees and clear leaves from roof gutters to prevent pooling and reduce blocked screens.
Have you been affected by the Brisbane mosquito plague?