None - They are everywhere and they're early. Bugs are normally an issue in Oklahoma in the spring but the mild winter temperatures will give the little creepy crawlies a boost. I went to the City-County Health Department to visit with John Baker to get an idea of just how much. John is the manager of Environmental Services, that means he's the bug dude. When you call and ask for someone to come and spray for mosquitoes in your neighborhood, it's John who gets the call. I asked him how much difference the warmer winter had on bugs being early. ""Yes, a lot of bugs would have been affected by that cold weather: he commented.”I don't think we’ve gotten cold enough to have that normal impact" he went on.
So that means that your average bugs will be out in force a lot earlier and when I stopped by Quik Trip I found evidence of that. George was out cleaning off his truck windshield "it's the middle of February and it's covered with stuff I don't normally see until June and July" he told me. Then George asked me if more bugs now would mean more mosquitoes this year as well. "I’m one of the big guys" he smiled. "They consider me a delicacy."
So I put that question to John as well and he had good news for George. Baker believes we could have a good year when it comes to the biting pests and last year is the main reason. He told me our blazing summer of 2011 was tough on our little biting buddies because of the lack of rain. Now he confirms 2012 may be the same. "We probably established an all time record low rate of citizen calls coming in" John began. "We only received about 400 calls the entire year where as compared to a couple of years ago we were getting about 4,000 a month" he finished.
John says those hot, dry days didn't give mosquitoes a chance to hatch their eggs. "There was a whole lot less to start with" he noted. "And low rainfall has continued so the lack of rainfall has had a significant impact on the mosquito population, hopefully reducing it."
But, John warned, don't get too happy just yet that could change quickly. "Mosquitoes lay their eggs at a high water mark" he said. "They can go one to two to three years in a draught situation until we get significant rain that inundates the place they laid those eggs prior and that can get the population back up immediately." Super, just super. Mosquito eggs can lie around that long and still hatch, who knew?
Still, John says his gut feeling is we may have fewer bites at the end of 2012. "Right now just based on what we know I would expect a lower season of rainfall and a lower mosquito population" was his prediction.
So get ready to clean those windshields more often but you can do it in shorts. More basic bugs and fewer mosquitos may be the 2012 norm. I don't know about you, but I'll take that trade off.