The Deadliest Creature in the World is Now Active in Idaho
When you think of dangerous creatures in Idaho, what comes to mind? Bears. Rattle Snakes. Wolves. Mountain Lions. Sure, all of those have the potential to harm you, but the number of people they kill per year is significantly lower than this particular creature.
The creature we’re talking about is the same one we warned you about in early April - the mosquito. The Ada County Mosquito Abatement District (ACMAD) explains that there are more than 170 species of mosquitoes in the United States. About 29% of those species are found in Ada County and the surrounding area. Mosquitoes thrive in temperatures above 80 degrees and at press time, Boise’s experienced 13 of those days since late April.
To make matters worse, mosquitoes lay their eggs in aquatic environments and need those wet environments for their larva to mature into adults. Our area’s experienced a significant amount of snow melt and flooding, which means there are more places for mosquitoes to lay their eggs than in years past.
Once they mature, they can hang out in the plants, shrubs and trees around your home until the time of day when they’re most active. Meridian-based Diamond Pest Pro explains that mosquitoes are most likely to bite you during the hours around dawn and dusk. You can try to protect yourself by using an EPA-approved bug spray, wearing certain colors of clothing that mosquitoes seem to avoid, or by planting certain mosquito-repelling plants in your garden or landscaping.
What Makes Mosquitoes So Dangerous?
Worldwide, the creepy little blood suckers are responsible for an estimated 700,000 deaths a year because they’re carriers of deadly diseases that can be transmitted to humans. The ones you’re probably most familiar with are Malaria, Zika and West Nile Virus. Pfizer says that the majority of mosquito-related deaths are due to Malaria.
Malaria is virtually unheard of in Idaho and other areas of the United States, but West Nile Virus is another story. According to ACMAD, the virus was first detected in Ada County in 2005. The next year, cases exploded and we led the nation for the highest number of reported human cases.
The CDC explains that 8 out of 10 people who contract West Nile probably won’t know they have it. Others may experience flu-like symptoms including fever, vomiting/diarrhea and fatigue. For 1 in 150, the virus can attack the central nervous system leading to things like encephalitis or meningitis which could be fatal.
Since 1999, there have been more than 1,400 human cases of West Nile Virus reported in Idaho. 250 of those were neuroinvasive. The state’s last fatal case was in 2021 and the man who died did indeed contract the disease in Ada County.
While not all mosquitoes are West Nile vectors, there are six in our area who are and two of them are primary vectors. Chances are that most of you reading this article are not entomologists and wouldn’t be able to tell one species of mosquito from another while it’s biting you so it’s always good to exercise caution while you’re spending time outside on beautiful Idaho summer nights.
Here’s a look at some of the plants that can help ward off these vicious little bugs from hanging out around your home.