Three major events typically occur during the month of May: Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, and the beginning of mosquito season. And the last event is never a cause for celebration. There are roughly 176 mosquito species in the U.S., and almost 3,000 worldwide, but all of the females share the desire to bite and sting.

And now, a new report by Orkin reveals the top 15 mosquito cities of 2020:

  • Atlanta
  • Los Angeles
  • Washington, D.C.
  • New York
  • Chicago
  • Dallas-Ft. Worth
  • Detroit
  • Charlotte
  • Philadelphia
  • Miami
  • Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina
  • Houston
  • Memphis
  • Richmond, Virginia
  • Minneapolis

Why these cities are so attractive to mosquitoes

Orkin’s list is based on the number of residential and commercial customers that requested mosquito treatments from the company between April 1, 2019, and March 31, 2020. So, why do these cities appear to have more mosquitoes? Several factors. “The majority of the top 15 cities had higher than normal rainfall in 2019, which could be tied to increased populations of mosquitoes,” says Frank Meek, technical services manager at Rollins, the parent company of Orkin.

“Also, many of these cities had higher-than-average temperatures, which means faster life cycle times.” Meek explains that geography also plays a role, and locations close to fresh water sources tend to have higher mosquito activity.

Dangers of mosquitoes

Mosquitoes are a painful nuisance, but they’re more than just pesky insects. According to the CDC, West Nile virus (WNV) is the leading cause of mosquito-borne disease in the U.S., and there are no vaccines or medications for the disease. Although most symptoms are mild, WNV can cause inflammation of the brain.

The Zika virus is also spread primarily through infected mosquito bites, and there’s no vaccine or medicine for it either. In pregnant women, it can cause birth defects, miscarriage, and stillbirth. Lesser-known mosquito-borne diseases include La Crosse encephalitis, Jamestown Canyon virus, and Powassan virus.

Mosquito prevention tips

There are several steps you can take to combat the presence of mosquitoes. Start by looking for any water sources around your home or facility. “Any object that has the potential to hold water should be removed or cleaned out frequently, as mosquitoes can breed in just an inch of standing water,” Meek warns.

Even yard decorations and outdoor planters could be hospitable areas for mosquitoes.

“Eliminate all sources of standing water, such as children’s wading pools, birdbaths, flower pots, tree holes and hollow stumps,” advises Scot Hodges at Arrow Exterminators. “Be sure to also prevent standing water in gutter drains by keeping them clean and clear of leaves and debris,” he says.

And look for other signs of water around your property. “Be sure to check for puddles that form on the roof from rainwater, leaking pipes, or even condensation from air conditioners,” says Meek.

If you have a swimming pool, Hodges advises keeping it covered during colder months. This keeps mosquitoes from laying their eggs in the pool.

“In addition, cut back or get rid of unnecessary vegetation around the home where mosquitoes can breed and/or rest,” Hodges advises. And Meek agrees, adding that adult mosquitoes like to rest in dark areas with high humidity, such as under the leaves of lush vegetation.

Both pest control experts advise inspecting doors and windows for drafts and openings and making sure your screens are secure and don’t have tears or holes. Don’t forget that these pesky insects only need a small hole to gain entrance to your home. “Install weather stripping around doors and utilize caulk around window frames,” Hodges says.

You can also use light to your advantage. “Homeowners can consider using yellow bug light bulbs in outdoor light fixtures, as these bulbs reduce the number of flying insects around the home,” Meek says.

If you’re going to be outside, wearing long-sleeve shirts and pants can help to protect your arms and legs. “Lastly, be sure to use insect repellent with picaridin or DEET in accordance with label directions,” Hodges says.

Meek provides a final piece of advice. “Avoid being outdoors during dusk and dawn hours, when mosquitoes tend to be most active.”