Oh Good, It's Bug Season in L.A. (Now With Added Zika Anxiety!)
Great news, everyone; it appears winter showers bring spring bug swarms. The L.A. Times reported Tuesday that this winter’s drought-ending rain has ushered in an infestation of bothersome, yet harmless, insects around Southern California.
LAist spoke to Levy Sun, public information officer for the Greater L.A. County Vector Control District, who assures concerned Southern California residents that the bugs in question are fungus gnats and mosquito-lookalike crane flies that don’t bite or spread diseases.
However, Levy warns that the same stagnant post-rain water attracting these innocuous insects will also draw mosquitoes as summer approaches, which could pose a public health risk in light of the global Zika outbreak.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health’s online resource center notes that there were 96 total cases of Zika in L.A. County in 2016. Before you panic, it’s important to note that none of these cases were transmitted locally or sexually in California itself — still, local transmission of Zika in the US has been identified in Florida and Texas, so it’s worth educating yourself about how to minimize risk. (The L.A. County Department of Public Health did not immediately return a request for comment.)
Levy stresses the importance of eliminating stagnant-water sources in gardens and backyards (commonly found in rain barrels and blocked roof gutters) and urges Southern Californians to use insect repellent when spending time outdoors.
“An improperly maintained pool - one without chlorine, without a working pump - can attract up to 1,000 mosquitoes in a week,” warns Levy, continuing that it “only takes one bad neighbor” to bring infestation to an otherwise mosquito-free neighborhood.
“The habits we set now to help get rid of stagnant water will not only save lives and keep people healthy, they’ll also create more enjoyable backyard barbecues and better communities,” Levy adds on a slightly more optimistic note, encouraging SoCal residents concerned about neighborhood infestations to contact their local vector control district at www.socalmosquito.org.