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Recent rain will lead to mosquito 'explosion,' crews use corn cob mixture to kill larvae

The Metropolitan Mosquito Control District use helicopters to drop an organic treatment that's infused with bacteria over targeted waterways.

WOODBURY, Minn. — You've probably noticed that the mosquitoes haven't been too bad this summer. But if you're spending more time outside this week, things may be different thanks the recent rain.

"In Minnesota we have so many of them," said Metropolitan Mosquito Control District's Alex Carlson about the insect. 

There are about 52 species in Minnesota, and about half of them are a concern to humans.

Their population was severely diminished this summer by the drought, but Carlson says that will now explode come fall.

"The eggs have just been waiting for their opportunity and the rain gave it to them," Carlson said. A mosquito's eggs can remain unhatched for up to seven years.

However, when they do hatch, it only takes five to seven days to mature into an adult mosquito. The MMCD crews are working quickly to dispose of the larva before that happens. 

But first they identify the waterways with a significant amount of larvae. 

RELATED: Mosquito numbers are way down this summer and the drought is the reason why

"We scoop the water and if we're getting on average two mosquito larvae per dip, then that's the threshold," explained researcher Kathy Beadle. The crews try to do about 10 scoops at each site.

The treatment used to kill mosquitoes is an organic corn cob mix infused with bacteria the larvae like to feed on. 

"It's not harming anything else," said Beadle and the helicopter they load it onto only targets the specific waters. 

Each of the treatment loads weighs 640 pounds and covers an area of about 100 football fields.

The larvae can be easily identifiable. Carlson says they have a long tail and small head and tend to stay near the surface. 

"Their tail is upright because that’s where their breathing tube is," says Carlson.

RELATED: Minnesotans are buzzing about wasps right now, and the weather is just one reason why

The mixture is usually dropped after every time about an inch of rain falls. Due to the drought, Monday was one of the first times the crews were out. Thanks to their hard work, most mosquitoes don't stand a chance.

"I would say we're killing millions of mosquitoes, probably more," said Beadle. "We want people to enjoy the outdoors, so if I can have a hand in that, I feel really good about it."

It's also the peak time of year when mosquitoes spread the West Nile virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there are no vaccines to prevent or medications to treat the virus in people. 

A good reminder to use bug spray and wear protective clothing to prevent any bites.

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