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Updated: 4th February 2020 23:40 Calgary

Dry season means fewer mosquitos to torment Calgarians, expert says

Mosquito season looks to be a mild one in both the short and long term, says a University of Calgary bug expert.

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Dry weather and cold snaps means less buzz than usual, says U of C's John Swann

Dry weather means fewer mosquitoes will torment Calgarians this summer, says University of Calgary's John Swann. (Canadian Press)

Judging by early returns, a University of Calgary bug expert is predicting a mild summer for mosquitoes.

John Swann, the manager of the invertebrate collection at the University of Calgary, told the Calgary Eyeopener the combination of dry weather, interrupted by stretches of below seasonal cold temperatures, is the reason there's rumoured to be not many mosquitoes around this spring.

"You need a fair bit of moisture to fill up those springs," Swann said. "Meltwater ponds — and there hasn't been.

"You need optimal temperatures. We had a few really nice days [this spring that] sort of taunted us, that summer was coming and then it would plunge back down.

"We had 10 centimetres of snow out in Kananaskis a couple of weekends ago. That's not conducive to mosquitoes."

Swann explained that there are several different waves of mosquitoes over the course of the summer that vary in size.

"They're different species. But it's it's simply a case of you have these sort of three pulses typically of most insects: spring, summer and fall. And right now we're sort of traditionally transitioning into the summer species."

The timing of it all is a little off for the spring crop, he said.

"It is probably going to be about the same as last year," he said, "where really it's only just getting warm enough and slightly moist enough that you'd get those spring mosquitoes building up — but now it's getting so warm, they sort of peter out and now you get the summer mosquitoes starting to ramp up."

And despite the antipathy most people feel for them, Swann said they do play an important role in the ecosystem.

"You have everything from other invertebrates, like dragonfly larvae are amazing for mosquito control," he said. "You have fish eating mosquito larvae. You have adult birds eating mosquito larvae, [even] bats in some cases.

"Although again," he added, "mosquitoes quite frankly — for nutrition, for things like bats — there isn't that much there."

With files from The Calgary Eyeopener

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