NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Mosquitos are no stranger to Tennesseans in the summertime, and residents can expect to see them stick around for a little longer.
A new study released by nonprofit Climate Central found as summers get longer, so does mosquito season.
The study spanned from 1979-2022, and during that period, the Southeast was most affected. From that period, 60% of the year was considered ‘mosquito days’ in the Southeast.
Shannon LaDeau is a Senior Scientist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, New York. LaDeau said that an increase in temperatures is to blame for the longer mosquito season.
“The spring starts a little earlier and the summer goes a little later, so you have more mosquito days when mosquitoes can be physically active,” LaDeau said. “That also means that the mosquito populations have more time each season to build up and grow, and so you also would expect to have more mosquitoes.”
LaDeau said the buildup of greenhouse gases has led to the increase in temperatures in many areas across the county. However, if an area is too warm, mosquitos will not survive.
“Mosquitoes generally grow faster and do better as temperature warms until a certain point at which it becomes too hot,” LaDeau said. “So, that’s why some of the places that the report listed actually will see a decrease in mosquito days if it becomes too hot or too dry.”
Those living in urban and suburban areas should be warier of the increase. The kinds of mosquitos who are more likely to bite humans have adapted to these environments. Tennesseans living in such areas should be wary of the health risks of the increased season.
“The kind of common public health message is that you could reduce juvenile habitat in your neighborhood, in your yard, and have an influence on mosquito exposure,” LaDeau said.