Tulsa mosquito population increase may be exaggerated

TULSA - It's only the beginning of July and the health department has received just as many mosquito complaints as they did during all of last year.

Officials with the Tulsa City-County Health Department say it's not necessarily bad news.

"No mosquito bites whatsoever in three weeks, I come back to Tulsa and I basically get eaten up," said Tulsa resident L.G. Huitt, who recently returned from vacation.

He lives in the part of south Tulsa where the bugs can be bad, according to the number of complaint calls received at the health department.

"Oh yeah, there's all kinds of larva in there," said John Baker, manager of Environmental Services at the department.

It's Baker's job to monitor the mosquito population.

"Last year was one of the driest seasons we've ever had collecting mosquitoes," he said.

Baker says this year's mosquito population only seems really bad in comparison, but is actually closer to average.

"I've been doing this for a very long time," he said. "This is the first time in almost 35 years that we sprayed almost nothing last year because there wasn't a mosquito problem."

He says the weather is the deciding factor -- the more water, the more mosquitoes.

"One 5-gallon can or bucket, half full of water, can produce thousands of mosquitoes," said Baker.

If the weather stays hot and dry, the population may be going down once again.

"If that continues over the next several weeks and months, we're going to get back into that really dry pattern, and the mosquito population is going to turn around and go back down."

Huitt is skeptical.

"I hope they're right. Up until now, that's not the case," he said. "It's been as bad as it's ever been this year."

The health department will begin spraying neighborhoods next week.

In the mean time, officials recommend checking for standing water around your home, especially after Monday's showers.

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