A viral photo shared to Facebook on Saturday showed just how bad the mosquitoes are getting in the aftermath of flooding from Hurricane Harvey on the Texas Gulf Coast.
Recovery efforts in Victoria, Texas and surrounding areas are being made more difficult by the invasion of millions of the biting insects.
Victoria resident Jesse Peña shared a picture of his truck covered in dead mosquitoes.
Peña took his truck on a trip to the nearby town of Seadrift, volunteering with the recovery effort. The number of bugs he saw was astounding.
“There were clouds of mosquitos over trees that looked like spirits,” Peña told Wide Open Country. “I never saw anything like that before. They were still, hovering.”
Getting past a swarm like that was no easy task. Peña stated that he had to turn on his windshield wipers and ended up using all of his wiper fluid just to be able to see the road in front of him.
“Driving through them was literally like driving through the rain,” he said.
The bugs were ravenous as well, causing all kinds of hassle for volunteers. “When they bite it’s like a tiny razor blade that cuts you, and you can’t satisfy the itch,” Peña reported. “My thoughts were on all the people without power that have to endure them. I had my own blood all over my shirt yesterday from killing them. Repelent only lasts so long.”
A post from a different Facebook user also showed the extent of the bug problem in nearby Port Lavaca.
If you’ve never lived on the Texas Gulf Coast then you might not know that, during warm weather, after every big rain there will be a significant mosquito population explosion.
Mosquitoes breed by laying eggs in standing water, and lately, there is an awful lot of standing water in the state.
The mosquitoes that are crusting Peña’s truck are Salt Marsh Mosquitoes, and according to Michael E. Merchant of Texas AgriLife Extension Services, they do not cary human diseases. That doesn’t mean they’re not a concern, however.
“Because they are breeding from widespread areas, they fly long distances and are very difficult to control in cities,” Merchant told the Victoria Advocate.
The city has been spraying for the critters, but they’re still prevalent in the outlying areas of the Gulf Coast.
“Both the city (of Victoria) and Victoria County are fogging everyday for mosquitoes as we received more than 12 inches of rain from Hurricane Harvey.” OC Garza Director of Communications for the City of Victoria told Wide Open Country.
Experts say that just after a hurricane, all the mosquitoes and larva are washed away in the rain. However, they tend to come back within a few weeks, breeding in the standing water that remains.
“Given all the West Nile we’ve already seen in Texas in recent years, this means we’re really going to have to keep our eyes on it in the coming months,” Baylor College of Medicine’s Dr. Peter Hotez told Texas Monthly. “We can’t really say we’re out of the woods until much later.”
The best thing residents can do for now is to rid your property of as much standing water as you can, by dumping out buckets or other receptacles that have been filled with rainwater, and removing anything damaged by the storm, like sodden carpeting, to the curb, away from your home.