Elephant mosquito surge threatens QLD
With a mosquito surge plaguing suburban hot spots in Southeast Queensland, councils are being slammed for skimping on preventive measures.
Elephant mosquitoes (or toxorhynchites) - the size of a 20 cent coin - are reportedly being found in near the Gold Coast in Queensland at Coombabah, Paradise Point and Biggera Waters.
With an alarming spike in mosquito numbers being reported, Brisbane City Council has been accused by the opposition of short-changing the $4.94 million mosquito eradication program, reports the Courier Mail.
Budget papers from 2018-2019 allegedly prove the council underspent about $1.15 million over nine months.
The council has refuted the claims, insisting most of that was spent in later months and stating there's an "unlimited budget" for mosquito spraying.
Other councils around southeast Queensland reported similar surges in mosquito numbers, with the Sunshine Coast Council telling the Courier Mail it received 20 "customer inquiries" a day on the issue.
Queensland's three biggest councils - Brisbane City Council, the City of Gold Coast and Moreton Bay Regional Council - have all revealed they're performing aerial sprays and doubling their efforts to manage the numbers.
Locals from Boondall Wetlands described swarms of insects chasing them into cars and out of public spaces, with one resident claiming the situation is so bad "it's like being a prisoner in your own home".
Worried parents claim their children are the ones most affected, with one Brighton mother saying she'd forced to douse her kids with insect repellent every day before school.
"The mozzies try to get into their hair," Aimee Phomsouvanh said.
"It's year-round, but definitely this rainy season has exacerbated the problem."
WEATHER TO BLAME
Recent weather patterns in the area are apparently to blame for the upsurge, as stormy conditions created the perfect hatching conditions for mosquitoes.
Persistent widespread showers have accompanied flooding in Queensland over the past month, with over 150mm of rain falling on the Sunshine Coast alone. Significant rainfall was also recorded on the Gold Coast and in Brisbane.
And apparently, there's more to come.
The Bureau of Meteorology in Queensland issued one of several storm warnings on Thursday, promising more rainfall and humidity for mozzies to breed in.
Forecasters are predicting a shower on Saturday in the Gold Coast, with heavier rainfall across Wenesday, Thursday and Friday expected next week.
⚠️WARNING UPDATE: Severe storm warnings for 5 areas at the moment, with hazards including heavy rain, damaging winds & large hail. Did the sky turn a tap on? 107mm fell within 1 hour inland from Tully, with 71mm falling in 30 mins! ⛈️☔— Bureau of Meteorology, Queensland (@BOM_Qld) February 27, 2020
Warnings: https://t.co/FBmpsInT9o pic.twitter.com/0QHYtw6bUR
#BeforeAndAfter pics: Jack Taylor Weir at #StGeorge transforms from a trickle in December 2018 to a torrent in February 2020 after heavy rainfall in the #Queensland southwestern interior has resulted in major flooding. See all #QldWeather warnings … https://t.co/ys8bboDLmN ⛈️ pic.twitter.com/yvWfNEFiaG— Bureau of Meteorology, Queensland (@BOM_Qld) February 25, 2020
While experts say there is no evidence yet of a spike in mosquito-borne diseases, such as Ross River virus (RRV), their numbers could continue to be high until the beginning of May.
The last significant RRV outbreak in 2015 led to nearly 700 infections of the incurable insect borne virus.
Queensland health detected only 118 cases of the disease in 2019.
Griffith University disease ecologist Eloise Skinner told the Gold Coast Bulletin the conditions are right for a serious event in 2020.
"It does tend to come in cycles, every three to five years, so we haven't seen an outbreak yet," she said.
"But we have conditions conducive with something like that, given the increase in numbers, the movements of animals and the weather."
HOW TO AVOID GETTING BITTEN
In response to the explosion in mosquito numbers, Metro North Health said residents needed to take increased precautions and limit their exposure to the pests, especially when they were most active around dawn and dusk.
Residents are also being urged to take steps to destroy potential nesting sites in backyards, emptying any containers that can hold stagnant water.
Some extra precautions to take include:
• Covering up with long-sleeved shirts and long pants for a physical barrier
• Using topical insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus
• Applying an even coat on all exposed areas of skin for the longest lasting protection
• Install or repair insect screens on all doors and windows, especially in sleeping areas
• Use a plug-in insecticide vaporiser (indoors) or mosquito coils (outdoors).