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“are we surprised D.C. is #2?”

by Prince Of Petworth May 2, 2017 at 12:30 pm 26 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user quemac

Sadly not surprised. Maybe surprised we’re not number 1. In August I will have lived in the District of Columbia for 20 years. My absolute least favorite thing about the city I love are the mosquitos.

“Orkin’s Top 50 Mosquito Cities list ranks metro areas by the number of mosquito customers served from April 1, 2016 to March 31, 2017. The list includes both residential and commercial treatments.

Washington, D.C. (+1)
Chicago (-1)
New York (+1)
Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. (+8)
Dallas-Ft. Worth, Texas
Houston (+5)
Detroit (-4)
Charlotte, N.C. (-1)
Nashville, Tenn. (-3)

Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla. (+11)
Orlando-Daytona Beach-Melbourne, Fla. (+11)
Norfolk-Portsmouth-Newport News, Va. (+1)
Memphis, Tenn. (-3)
Mobile-Pensacola, Fla. (+11)
West Palm Beach-Ft. Pierce, Fla. (+15)
Raleigh-Durham, N.C. (-8)
Grand Rapids-Kalamazoo-Battle Creek, Mich. (-3)
Boston (-9)
Phoenix, Ariz.
Philadelphia (+9)
Greenville-Spartanburg, S.C., Asheville, N.C (-6)
Richmond-Petersburg, Va. (-2)
Kansas City, Mo. (+25)
Cleveland-Akron-Canton, Ohio (-7)
Louis, Mo.
New Orleans, La. (+16)
Baltimore, Md. (+9)
Los Angeles
Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn. (-11)
Hartford-New Haven, Conn. (-8)
Lafayette, La. (+12)
Knoxville, Tenn. (+1)
Albany-Schenectady-Troy, N.Y. (-17)
Indianapolis, Ind. (-8)
Birmingham, Ala. (+11)
Austin, Texas (+11)
Cincinnati, Ohio (+7)
San Antonio, Texas
Baton Rouge, La.
Charleston, S.C. (-16)
Shreveport, La.
Columbia, S.C.
Columbus, Ohio (-12)
Bangor, Maine (-16)
Flint-Saginaw-Bay City, Mich. (-18)
Greensboro-High Pt.-Winston-Salem, N.C. (-9)
Myrtle Beach-Florence, S.C. (-2)
Tulsa, Okla. (-13)
Little Rock-Pine Bluff, Ark.”

  • AdMoRez

    The more customers served, does not mean more mosquitoes. It’s probably more telling the more treatments and active anti-mosquito work, means less moquitoes.

    • lizcolleena

      Yeah I’m also wondering about the methodology here. I grew up in Minneapolis, where the mosquitos are MANY times worse than in DC, but that pretty much means there is no point to treating them because it would just be impossible (and undesirable for environmental reasons, obviously) to really make a dent. I think all this means is that DC has a plethora of standing water pools (not surprising considering that there are a number of vacant and rundown homes that make for good breeding grounds) but still has enough wealth for Orkin to be hired with any frequency.

    • textdoc

      Agreed that the methodology is a bit dubious. I was thinking the same thing when Orkin released its rankings of cities for rats — the rankings reflect inhabitants’ interest in getting (and their financial ability to get) professional exterminators to get rid of pests, not necessarily the prevalence of the pests themselves.)
      It would be more useful if municipal departments of health did some kind of sampling… but even then, prevalence of mosquitoes has got to vary across a city.

  • James

    I grew up in the Chicago suburbs and visit family every year. The mosquitos in Chicago are much much worse than in DC.

  • Marty

    We are lucky that we can leave DC for most of June – late August, and therefore avoid most of the mosquito (and heat/humidity) season.
    We do find that the DC mosquitoes, A. albopictus mostly, are more aggressive than what we find in New England. Those ones are, fortunately, slower and give you a little more time to react. The ones here just bite before you ever notice them.

  • Cranky Old Bastard

    Who the hell calls exterminators for mosquitoes? All you have to do is eliminate standing water.

    This says more about DC people than it does about mosquitoes.

    • Not sure if it’s true but I’ve heard that they breed in our storm sewer system. If so, there’s very little we can do about that. That said, my neighbor has all manner of containers full of standing water in his back yard and I’m sure that’s one of the major sources in my own neighborhood.

      • navyard

        That makes sense. My front garden is a nightmare. Walk past it and you get bit, but walk into it (day or night) and you get attacked). There is no standing water, but there is a manhole cover to my water-meter and some pipes and that is very close to where they seem to congregate. I’ll see if I can inspect it this weekend. Thakns for the tip!

    • textdoc

      “All you have to do is eliminate standing water.” When you’re in a rowhouse, eliminating standing water on your own property isn’t sufficient if there’s standing water on your neighbors’ properties.

      • anon

        Just explain to the mosquitoes that they belong to your neighbor, not you, and politely request that they keep to their own property.

        • MadMax

          I suggest writing your ANC member a stern email.

    • tke98

      Yeah, but everyone cannot access all potential sources of water on neighboring properties. And standing water is always not visible, i.e., clogged gutters. I do not have standing water anywhere in my yard, but every year I’m aggressively attacked by mosquitoes, even when I just walk outside to dump the trash. I’m also bitten up when I stroll my neighborhood, shoot just about any DC neighborhood, walking my dog or running about. I try to limit how much mosquito repellent spray I use because I have sensitive skin and depending on the product can have an allergic reaction to the chemicals. But I also have severe reactions to mosquito bites — akin to an allergic reaction — so it’s a lose-lose situation for me.

  • Ugh, my back yard is basically unusable from mid-May until well into September. And mosquito season seems to be starting a couple of weeks earlier than usual this year (I saw several last weekend). One unexpected bonus of our rooftop deck is that very few mosquitoes make it up there so we can actually enjoy some of the nicer summer evenings outdoors!

  • ET

    I don’t believe that #2 ranking. Not sure anyone in south Louisiana or along the Gulf Coast (except Houston it seems) bothers to even try to fight mosquitoes.

  • Missy

    We just moved to a new apartment with a balcony – yay!
    Only it gets no sun exposure – boo.
    One thing we didn’t think about was how this would become a mosquito haven. We’ve tried to sit out and enjoy coffee the past few weekends with nice weather and it’s been a nightmare – we’re trying to many things to get rid of them but alas, looks like it might not be in the cards for us. But I’m from Florida so really, aside from this brush with them I wouldn’t think they’re *that* bad.

  • anonononononononon

    What’s forgotten here is this is a ranking based on a a luxury service…so yes, locations with some high income areas (plus mosquitoes) will rank high, whereas places with perhaps more mosquitoes but lower level of income will not rank. Anyway, mosquitoes suck. Literally and figuratively.

  • bruno

    Not surprised, but I think the problem is worse now than when I first moved here… maybe because there are more planters around? Skeeters seem to grow in the catch plates under plants.

  • textdoc

    If you have gutters… get ’em cleaned.
    (This thread reminded me to make an appointment for gutter-cleaning.)

  • Anonthony

    One easy, environmentally friendly solution where practical is to use an electric fan on your porch or balcony. Mosquitoes are so small and lightweight that they can’t stick around long enough to land on you and bite you if there’s a good current of air blowing through. There are some pretty nice outdoor fans available these days, as well.

  • textdoc
  • OldinAM

    When I arrived in DC aournd 1970 I never noticed any mosquitos in the city. Coming from the mosquito-infested midwest I found their absence here wonderful. I was told at the time that the generous use of DDT had essentially eliminated mosquitos in the District. Is this possibly true?

    Anyway, if so, over the years after the ban on DDT the mosquitos have obviously moved slowly back into the city. But it’s certainly not as bad these days as I found on my visits to Michigan.

    • bruno

      That could be — if DDT was the factor, then we can say on the positive side there are many more songbirds around now than there were in the 1970s, which I think is also true :^) Sending us tweets (ha ha).

    • tke98

      I think DC’s problem has increased because of the invasion of the invasive tiger mosquito. They’re more resistant to pesticides, like to hang out in the sun and are much larger than North America’s native mosquitoes. It was around thirty years ago that they came to the US inside of car tires shipped to Texas from China, I believe. They have since then moved north and east and they are terrible, terrible creatures. See https://www.invasivespeciesinfo.gov/animals/asiantigmos.shtml

    • John B.

      Maybe, but Asian tiger mosquitoes have also moved into the area since then, and they are able to breed in very small amounts of standing water compared to other species.

      • Anon

        Most of the mosquitos I get in my yard are the tiger mosquitos.


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