If you have ever noticed a sharp increase in mosquito bites after a tropical storm, you might already associate mosquito activity with the weather. Some mosquito species, particularly those found on the coast and in wooded areas, emerge in great numbers following rain. On the other hand, our main vector of West Nile virus, the southern house mosquito, actually increase in number following extended periods of drought! With those facts in mind, shouldn’t St. Tammany Mosquito Abatement (STPMAD) be able to predict when and where mosquitoes will be bad ahead of time?
STPMAD has deployed weather and water sensors around the parish to help predict where mosquito problems may be brewing in both the short- and long-term. Weather sensors have been strategically placed in each region of St. Tammany Parish to better monitor localized rain and temperature fluctuations common throughout the spring and summer. Water sensors are situated in known-problem sites containing different mosquito species presence, and monitor groundwater level and markers of water quality.
Our sensors provide a short-term benefit by giving our field crew localized information regarding the state of weather, water, and mosquito activity in their region. In the long-term, we hope to combine data captured by our sensors with mosquito trap and landing rate information to develop a predictive model for mosquito activity. Predicting problematic mosquito conditions will help prevent outbreaks from occurring ahead of time, rather than our traditionally responsive treatment tactics employed today.