Less rain, fewer mosquitoes

The shortage of rainfall this year has had some benefits according to officials at the Mosquito Research and Control Unit.

Grand Cayman is currently experiencing the driest year in recorded history, which scientists say may be linked to the El Nino event in the tropical Pacific Ocean.

Chief Meteorologist of the Cayman Islands National Weather Service John Tibbetts said through 25 August there had only been 7.67 inches of rain in 2009.

He said that was the lowest amount of rainfall for that period during any year on record.

‘Mosquito numbers are usually down when there is less rain because the larvae need water to grow into adults after being laid in the soil,’ said MRCU Assistant Director Alan Wheeler.

‘This is beneficial to the general public in that they have fewer mosquitoes to contend with and the Department saves money, as less spraying and/or other combative measures are needed to thwart the proliferation of these creatures.’

The plane used for fighting mosquitoes usually drops pellets on larvae to stop the insects before they become adults and multiply. In areas that may have been missed the plane will perform night flights to spray.

Wheeler said MRCU conducts studies of rainfall on a daily basis and has not needed to spray for several weeks now.

Officials at the unit added that mosquito control has taken an offensive approach in the Cayman Islands and residents are not simply reacting to them as once was the case.

In fact, according to Wheeler, the past five years have been the best on record in terms of results for control measures.

So far there have been no cases of dengue fever reported in the Cayman Islands for 2009. However researchers say the ades aegypti mosquito, is known to live in the Islands’ dense swamps and mangrove and can still pose a threat.

They suggest that the public try to prevent water from sitting and inspect their yards for larvae, which is easy to spot.

‘They look like clusters of little worms,’ said Wheeler.

The doctor went on to detail how the Cayman Islands had eradicated this particular mosquito before and he feels that if persons are pro-active in being vigilant, ‘we should be able to do so again.’