Environment, public health

Here’s something else to worry about: more mosquito days

It’s not your imagination. Mosquitoes are worse than they used to be.

In central North Carolina, mosquito season is nearly two weeks longer now than it was 35 years ago, according to a Climate Central report.

In Asheville, there are 18 more mosquito days; Greensboro has an additional 16.Climate conditions in Greenville add 12 days to the season, and an extra week in Charlotte. In Wilmington, where it is already warm and humid, there are just three more mosquito days per year, for a total of 214.

Almost half the year is now suitable for mosquitos to thrive in western North Carolina, and 59%  along the coast.

The number of mosquito days was calculated based on studies from the National Institutes of Health, which found mosquitoes survive best at temperatures between 50-95 degrees and a relative humidity of at least 42%.

According to Climate Central, these conditions are increasing in nearly two-thirds of the 239 sites analyzed in the contiguous US, from the 1980s to the 2010s.

Mosquitos aren’t merely an annoyance. They can carry diseases, such as Zika, malaria, Chikungunya virus, dengue and West Nile.

West Nile virus, in particular, is projected to spread with climate change, as temperatures increase and warm seasons lengthen.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the rate of disease in humans as a result of mosquito, tick and flea bites tripled in the US from 2004 to 2016. Researchers have identified nine new germs carried by mosquitoes in the last 15 years.

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