Mosquitoes are less prevalent in North Phoenix and elsewhere in Maricopa County so far this year compared to last. But they’re annoying some people more than ever, especially with the proliferation of a nonnative pest that will suck your blood any time of day.
A handful of residents—from Anthem’s Country Club and Arroyo Grande sections, as well as Black Canyon City and Carefree Crossing along the North Valley Parkway—say the bites have been unbearable in recent weeks, while other neighborhoods aren’t buzzing.
“We can’t even go outside without them attacking us,” said Teresa Gannon, who lives in the Aurora neighborhood on the eastern edge of Anthem Parkside. “We have looked for stagnant water around our homes and we are finding nothing. We all have to stock up on bug spray, make our own, or we don’t even go out anymore. It’s that frustrating.”
“The mosquitos are terrible,” added a resident of Arroyo Grande. “None of us can even sit out on the patio due to this huge problem.”
“My husband and I have lived here for six years and have not seen or been bitten by any mosquitoes,” said Shan Rose, who lives just south of Anthem Way near the community center.
What’s Going On?
Why the spotty experiences? Some of it may depend on when people are outside.
While mosquitoes used to be a problem mostly at dawn and dusk, there’s a newcomer that takes her blood meals during the day, and she prefers humans over other creatures. (Only female mosquitoes bite, sucking blood to provide the energy to make more mosquitoes.)
The other reason hits home: Some mosquitoes don’t venture more than a few hundred yards from their breeding grounds, so an infestation this time of year—prior to the wet season—is usually very local, originating at poor drainage of a park or golf course, or your own backyard, experts say. (It takes only a few drops of standing water, warm weather, and three days to make a mosquito.)
Maricopa County does weekly checks of more than 700 mosquito traps, including several in North Phoenix. The number of mosquitoes found in an early June check of the local traps was too low to trigger any pest-control efforts.
- Norterra area (one trap): 1
- Tramonto (one trap): 0
- Anthem east side (two traps): 2
- Anthem Arroyo Grande (two traps): 5
Likewise, complaints to the county mosquito hotline (602-506-0700) indicate lower bug numbers compared to last year, said John Townsend, vector control division manager for the Maricopa County Environmental Services Department (ESD). As of June 8 this year, 1,774 people called the hotline, compared to 2,485 by the same time last year.
If you’ve been dive-bombed by a mosquito in the daytime, then you’ve likely met Aedes aegypti, a non-native species that has been in Maricopa County for decades and whose numbers have grown over the last two years, according to the ESD. Aedes aegypti can carry the Zika virus, though as of this writing, there have been no transmissions of Zika within Arizona.
“Since the introduction of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, people notice them more because they are active during the day and are coming from breeding sources in their own backyards,” Townsend told In&Out.
“Most large floodwater hatches come from monsoon rains,” Townsend explained. May and early June have been relatively dry, so “most people are experiencing mosquitoes coming from their own backyard or an unkept swimming pool or water feature in the neighborhood.”
And this bloodsucker fully lives up to the moniker of pest.
“Aedes aegypti mosquitoes prefer human blood meals and tend to stay close to these breeding sources and blood meals, so they tend to not fly more than a few hundred yards from their breeding site for their entire lifespan,” Townsend said.
What You Can Do
Whether you’re being bitten to death or haven’t seen a mosquito yet this year, expect to be bugged when the monsoon rains come. Key prevention tips:
Outside: Make sure there are no low spots or catch basins that trap water from irrigation or rainfall. Keep gutters clean, scrub the birdbath weekly and toss those old tires.
Indoors: Yes, mosquitoes can breed in your home. Drain and scrub flower-pot saucers weekly and check for perpetually damp spots under sinks or in the laundry room.
Shoo! The CDC considers these repellents safe: DEET; icaridin (or picaridin); oil of lemon eucalyptus.
Call the Hotline: 602-506-0700. The county takes action based on clusters of reports from residents, plus what’s found in traps.
More on Mosquitoes
See our detailed guide to mosquito prevention, plus more on Zika and West Nile.