Mosquitoes are having their own “Oktoberfest” in the Cayman Islands.
A recent spike in activity is the result of heavy rains in late September and early October, pushing mosquito populations higher. Only halfway through the month, total figures for trapped mosquitoes are already 8 percent higher than last October.
“We’ve had a lot of people complaining the mosquitoes are eating them alive,” said pharmacist Yemi Manu of Care Pharmacy.
But Alan Wheeler, assistant director of the Mosquito Research and Control Unit, the agency responsible for abatement in the Cayman Islands, said relief is on the way.
The number of mosquitoes trapped Oct. 16 dropped 85 percent from the previous week.
“The numbers have peaked and gone down,” Mr. Wheeler said. Barring another spate of rain, “There shouldn’t be any more emergence,” he said.
Residents in some areas are still feeling the itch, however.
“It’s insane,” said Mick Maher, with the Little Cayman Beach Resort. “Unless you are completely covered, you don’t go outside.”
Mr. Wheeler said conditions on Little Cayman may be worse than other places because there are challenges with mitigation there. The island’s runway is not lit, so the planes used for spraying larvicide cannot fly into the night hours, when they are most effective. Even so, the agency has done some aerial spraying there. Ground crews, he said, have been beefed up.
Mr. Maher said he sympathizes.
“I know they want to do more,” he said of the MRCU. “The guy who runs the spray truck [on the island] is doing everything he can.”
Conrad Martin, 66, who lives on Cayman Brac, said the last two years have been the worst he’s seen in three decades.
“Last year was really bad and it’s getting bad again,” Mr. Martin said.
Outdoor seating areas at restaurants on Little Cayman, where he also has a home, and on the Brac, were deserted last September and October, typically the worst months for mosquitoes. The same is happening this year, he said.
He cannot recall another time since the late 1980s when the pests drove people indoors.
Mr. Wheeler said while October mosquito numbers will be higher this year than last, there were fewer mosquitoes this September than in 2016. He said workers are out in force, providing both ground and aerial spraying to knock down the population.
“We’ve been sending planes up each day,” Mr. Wheeler said. “All our fog and ground units are out. Things should improve if they haven’t already improved.”
The efforts do not include the release of more genetically modified mosquitoes. Releases in West Bay earlier this year are being evaluated for potential islandwide dispersal of the genetically modified mosquitoes in 2018, Mr. Wheeler said.