Buzz about mosquitos
Good news, bad news, as it pertains to the 2019 rainy season that seem to have concluded this week.
Good news first. California’s drought is over with the caveat that San Diego is one of the few areas — Northeast California is the other — that is still a bit short when it comes to reservoir replenishment.
Bad news: Mosquitos. Lots of rain creates a great environment for mosquitos to live long and prosper, apologies to Mr. Spock.
Environmental health officials in Los Angeles are warning that the recent rains have created havens for disease-spreading mosquitoes. Them nasty critters need only a teaspoon of water for mosquito eggs to complete their life — and annoyance –cycle.
Health officials urge people to take precautions against the pests that can transmit everything from West Nile to Zika.
To prevent breeding grounds for mosquitoes, public health officials advised homeowners to get rid of standing water and other breeding areas and cover all water-filled containers with tight fitting lids.
Worldwide, there are approximately 3,000 species of mosquitoes and nearly 4 million people die each year from various mosquito-borne diseases.
There are 27 different types of mosquitoes in San Diego County. At least 9 types are known to carry diseases that can be passed to humans.
- Contact the San Diego County Vector Control Program if:
- You have tried to control for mosquitoes and you are still having problems
- Mosquitoes are coming from a local lagoon, stream, riverbed or other large water source
The Mosquito Life Cycle
A mosquito has four stages of life:
1. Egg: Once laid in water, eggs will hatch in 2 to 3 days.
2. Larva: A mosquito larva looks like a tiny wiggling worm in the water.
3. Pupa: A larva becomes a pupa and the adult mosquito develops inside.
4. Adult: Total development time from egg to adult can be less than 1 week during periods of warm weather. The average mosquito will live for about 2 weeks.
Then, there’s the thing with snakes
While we’re on the subject of unpleasant representatives if the animal kingdom, and with all due respect to lovers of the slithering reptiles, snake season is coming, despite the ainy season.
Snakes are pretty bright. Rain and cold weather keeps them safe and snuggly in a dormant state.
With all sorts of wildlife emerging in the spring, April and May mark the start of rattlesnake season in San Diego County. Recent reports have described increased snake sightings. As the reptiles come out of hibernation, it is not uncommon to spot them locally, though bites are rare. Most sightings are likely to happen between now and October.
Snake McSnakes will become more active as the soil dries and temperatures rise, snake removal specialist Tom Minga said to KFMB News 8.
“From now on people are going to see them, sometimes even on rainy day if it’s not too cold,” Minga said. “Warm overcast skies are the worst days for snakes.”
Minga says we won’t see what some refer to as a “bumper crop” of snakes. Most babies are actually born in the late summer.
With favorable conditions, they’ll soon start searching for food in areas closer to people and that means it is time to keep an extra eye out for your pets and teach them how to avoid snakes.
“They’ll be running through the bushes and can get bit,” said Minga. “And they’re curious about snakes.”
San Marcos Park Ranger Ron Vinluan said: “Snakes are most likely venturing out in search of food and to soak up the sun. People think they’re going to chase you—that isn’t so. They don’t want anything to do with us.”
If you encounter one of the five varieties of rattlesnakes found in the county, give it space. Calmly back away from it, leave it alone and let it go on its way, Vinluan continued.
California has a variety of snakes, most of which are benign. The exception is California’s only native venomous snake – the rattlesnake.
“While San Diego County is seeing a rise in snake bite cases each year, the more alarming factor is the toxicity of the bite,” said Dr. Richard Clark, director of the Division of Medical Toxicology at UC San Diego Health System
Toxin levels in rattler venom vary from year to year and season to season, but typically venom is weaker in winter and stronger in summer because snakes are more active, fighting for food and territory.
“We really don’t know why the venom is becoming increasingly potent. Some speculate that with the modern world encroaching on nature it could be survival of the fittest. Perhaps only the strongest, most venomous snakes survive,” Clark said.
“The anti-venom is costly at more than $2,500 a vial,” Clark said. “Patients may need a series of anti-venom shots and insurance does not always cover the treatment.”
The majority of the injuries are on hands, fingers and feet, and the most typical result is swelling and tissue damage that looks like blisters or frost bite.
Symptoms of severe bites can include: extreme pain at the location of the bite, nausea and sometimes diarrhea, followed by swelling in the mouth and throat, making it difficult to breathe. Within minutes, victims can get lightheaded, collapse and go into shock.
Approximately 8,000 people annually are treated for poisonous snake bites in the United States. However, the California Poison Control Center notes that rattlesnakes only account for about 800 of those bites each year with about one to two deaths.
California rattlesnake species include the northern Pacific rattlesnake in northern California and in Southern California the Western Diamondback, Sidewinder, Speckled rattlesnake, Red Diamond rattlesnake, Southern Pacific, Great Basin rattlesnake and the Mojave rattlesnake.
The Do’s and Dont’s in Snake Country
When hiking, stick to well-used trails and wear over-the-ankle boots and loose-fitting long pants. Do not step or put your hands where you cannot see, and avoid wandering around in the dark. Step on logs and rocks, never over them, and be especially careful when climbing rocks or gathering firewood. Always avoid walking through dense brush or willow thickets.
Be careful when stepping over the doorstep as well. Snakes like to crawl along the edge of buildings where they are protected on one side.
What to Do In The Event Of a Snake Bite
Although uncommon, rattlesnake bites do occur. The first thing to do if bitten is to stay calm. Generally, the most serious effect of a rattlesnake bite to an adult is local tissue damage which needs to be treated.
Children, because they are smaller, are in more danger if they are bitten.
Get to a doctor as soon as possible, but stay calm. Frantic, high-speed driving places the victim at greater risk of an accident and increased heart rate.
If the doctor is more than 30 minutes away, elevate the bite and then try to get to the doctor as quickly as possible.
Snakebite First Aid
Ø Wash bite with clean water and soap.
Ø Immobilize the area and keep at/below the level of the heart.
Ø If the bite is on the hand or arm, remove any rings, watches or tight clothing.
Ø Get medical help immediately!!
Ø If possible, identify the snake (note colors and markings).
Ø Do not attempt to catch the snake, or bring it live to the medical care facility!
Ø Apply ice.
Ø Apply any tourniquets (constricting bands).
Ø Use any electric shock to the wound.
Ø Use any suction to wound.
Ø (Backpackers to areas far removed from any medical care facility may be advised to use suction, but it is not used in an area that has medical care readily available).
Ø The area Trauma Centers are well-stocked with anti-venom and trained to handle rattlesnake bites.
Always Call 911, keep the victim quiet and calm.
If bitten or you feel a snake or other animal is dangerous, call 911 immediately. For more information about rattlesnakes in California, visit https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/News/Snake.