Wet, cooler spring makes for a mosquito-ridden summer - FOX Carolina 21

Wet, cooler spring makes for a mosquito-ridden summer

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Blue skies and 70 degrees sounds like the perfect spring day. For someone who's been in South Carolina long, it's a very unusual combination for this late into the month of May.

Meteorologists call this spring the coolest and rainiest one for at least a decade. It's been nice for those who may not be into the Carolina heat, but its effects will likely be seen in fruits and vegetables and bugs.

The wet, cool spring makes for an interesting combination, according to entomologist Larry Motes, with Gregory Pest Solutions in Greenville. The wet usually makes for more bugs and better plant growth, but too much can flood plants. The cool weather keeps the bugs down and causes plants to grow slower.

Bo Cable, the founder and executive director of The Generous Garden Project, said he's seen his tomatoes and other summer produce stunted from all the rain. With his garden, Cable grows produce for food banks and shelters in the Upstate.

He said the last couple years, they already made a few deliveries by this time in the spring. This year, though, deliveries have only come from what grows in their greenhouses.

With the cold and warmth fluctuations over the winter, Cable thinks the plants were shocked.

Even though the higher water table will be good as the summer heats up, the soaked grounds have kept him from planting in some of his fields.

"We couldn't get in there cause the tractor just kept getting stuck," said Cable.

But even inside his greenhouses, Cable's noticed some unwelcome visitors. He said he didn't have aphids before, but this year, there are many.

It's not unusual, Motes said. He said the Upstate should expect to see a lot more bugs, like ladybugs, kudzu bugs and especially fire ants.

"When you get an inch or two of rain, it floods [the fire ants'] home and they have to come up," said Motes.

The tiny worker bugs build the soil up into mounds, which helps keep them warmer in the cooler temperatures, too.

Motes said the same amount of fire ants are around this year, but the cool, wet weather just makes them more visible.

He said the cool weather slows the growth of mosquitoes.

"Whereas in the middle of the summer, 85-90 degrees heat, mosquitoes can develop in as little as six days from egg to adult and start biting. With the cooler weather, that slows the development time probably to two to three weeks," said Motes.

Motes explained that with all the water around, as soon as the temperature heats up, mosquito nests that have sat dormant will all hatch at the same time.

The weather is supposed to get warmer this week, so Motes suggests that this is definitely the time to make sure gutters, bird baths and tarps on boats are cleaned out. It's the sitting water in which mosquitoes love to breed.

Motes said the weather won't just affect insects, but rodents and snakes, too. When ditches are flooded, the ground is saturated. Tunnels for mice, rats, and chipmunks are flooded, so they move to higher ground closer to homes. The snakes follow their prey.

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