Trends for summer 2023: bug season sooner than expected

Published: May. 24, 2023 at 9:50 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Summer weather gives way to plenty of outdoor activities, but it also invites some unwelcome guests.

While it’s difficult to forecast, many are saying that this could be one of the biggest seasons for mosquitoes we’ve seen in the last few years.

Mosquitoes are not the only bug that thrives in warm weather, but it’s the main concern for the City of Sioux Falls as they prepare to combat potential West Nile Virus cases.

Every year brings different weather patterns that affect the bugs we see. Entomologist, Denise Patton, says that this past winter is the cause of an early surge of mosquitoes.

“We started the season with a lot of snow that needed to melt and when it did, it created tons and tons of water pockets, which is perfect for mosquitoes,” Patton explained. “So, we’ve kind of started off with a bit more of a bang than we have in the past.”

The city monitors mosquito activity with over 30 traps set up in different zones. Different areas of the city can attract different types of mosquitoes. There are 43 types of mosquitoes that can be found in the state, but only a handful catch the attention of the Vector Control Program.

“Some of them don’t even bite humans at all, some only feed on sap, some don’t carry a virus, others bite aggressively, so those are the ones we’re paying attention to. The ones we care the most about are our vector species, the ones that can spread West Nile Virus really well,” said Patton.

According to Patton, South Dakota has the highest per capita affected by West Nile in the nation. Since the season has begun earlier than usual, it provides more chances for vector species to infect more of our population.

“Some people can experience those symptoms for months. And then, of course, there’s the worst-case scenario where it gets into the brain or the spinal cord, those encephalitides and things like that are the ones that we are really, really worried about because it can cause paralysis and lifelong damage,” Patton said.

There are plenty of ways to avoid mosquitoes without missing out on your favorite outdoor activities, such as wearing long sleeves, wearing lighter-colored clothing, or using bug-repellant sprays.

However, Patton said you should also minimize any place on your property that could be a habitat for mosquitoes.

“We don’t aim to get rid of every mosquito, but we try to manage them so that they’re at a level that people can tolerate,” Patton said.

Patton said that other bugs are also seeing an early rise as well this season, but some, like ticks, are more present in rural areas and don’t need to be monitored as closely as mosquitoes in Sioux Falls.

Patton says that spraying is just a small part of what they do to manage mosquito populations.

“That’s actually the last thing we do,” explained Patton. “It’s about twenty percent of what mosquito control consists of. Everything else is our staff going out and finding habitat, standing water areas where they’re hanging out in a day, and trying to treat those so that they don’t cause issues. We will handle all of the public areas as best we can, so detention ponds, retention ponds, ditches, that sort of thing, but we don’t look at your bird bath and things like that.”

Her advice for maintaining potential mosquito habitats is as follows:

“Try to keep some sort of a flow if you have fountains, water features, and things like that. Dump out dog dishes and things after rain. If you have an irrigation system, make sure it’s draining well,” Patton said.

If they do reach certain thresholds at potential mosquito habitats, they will go in and spray the location.

If you’re interested in knowing what the city is doing in your area, you can sign up for text alerts by texting “spray” to 888777 or you can find an interactive map on