DES MOINES, Wash. - As temperatures finally start to rise, biologists say to expect more mosquitoes than normal in western Washington and other parts of the Pacific Northwest.
The insects may be bugging you more than usual this spring and summer because there is a lot of water for breeding. Biologists also say the cold, wet weather has delayed many of the young from emerging, so they may start popping out all at once.
"There is one right here, but it’s not really bumping up, but it’s itch," said 7-year-old Cypress Cook.
He was at Saltwater State Park Monday, itching from mosquito bites on his arms and head.
"This one is kind of bumpy," he said pointing to a bite near his ear.
His mom, dad and sister, Seny, are all from Alaska, where they say the hoards of mosquitos they've encountered there could be a sign of things to come in Washington.
"Back home in Alaska, mosquitos are thick right now, and they are unbearable," said dad Bradley Cook.
"We were camping, and we have like a screen netting and like every inch or two there was a mosquito. It was like covering the whole screen," said mom Sharon Cook.
"A lot of different species kind of all occurring at the same time. So, If you are camping up in the mountains, you should definitely bring your deet," said Dr. Jeffrey Riffell, professor of biology at the University of Washington.
He says the abundance of rain has created plenty of mosquito nurseries in western Washington.
"The rain and everything else is going to promote the mosquito breeding," said Riffell.
He says the cooler temperatures leading into the summer are also playing a role.
"The cold temperatures prevent or slow down the mosquitos from occurring and as soon as it warms up, gets above 60 or so, it’s all of a sudden 70 or so, mosquitos are going to all occur all at the same time," he said.
Although he expects the mountains and marshy areas to be the hardest hit by the expected swarm of mosquitos, urban areas will also see an impact.
"Typically, we have up to about 50 different species of mosquitos, even in western Washington and around the Seattle area. Even in the urban environments, you can expect to have an increase in mosquitos," said Riffell.
Riffell says it's a good idea to bring the deet if you are going camping. He says it's also a good time to check pots and containers in your yard for standing water and to empty them to prevent mosquito breeding.
"100%, I always have mosquito bites every year," said Eric Davis of Federal Way. "Mosquitos have been bad before so if we are getting a bug bomb, then yeah, it’s going to be worse."
"Mosquitoes are horrible, so you are always trying to avoid them while you are camping," said Dylan Peterson of Burien. "If there are a lot of them, it will put a little bummer on that."
Visitors at Saltwater State Park explained how they'd minimize damage from a potential mosquito swarm.
"I guess we will be taking our screen tents to cover the whole table," said Steve Peterson, an avid camper from Burien. "We do a lot of outside stuff, camping and outdoor stuff, so I really don’t like the idea that might be happening."
"Probably check the screens, make sure there is no standing water in the area, lots of bug spray, citronella, whatever works," said Davis.
"Campfire smoke, throw a little grass on it, and it keeps everything away," said Darby Laronde of Federal Way. She's planning a camping trip in July.
"Lots of bug spray, smoke, those are our typical methods," she said.
"The wind helps, too. I imagine it gets worse when you get away from the water," said Bradley Cook.
The Cook family says if all else fails, buy an electric bug-zapping racket to take with you to the campsite.
"We have one of those little rackets that electrocute them," said Sharon. " That was helpful."