A species of mosquitoes is infesting Kern County and it has already taken over at least 50 neighborhoods.
That's according to Gene Abbott, manager at Kern Mosquito and Vector Control. The species, Aedes aegypti, an aggressive, day-biting mosquito, has the potential to spread viruses such as dengue fever, yellow fever, or Zika virus but it has not progressed to that stage yet, Abbott said. But they are impacting people's quality of life.
About 90 percent of Bakersfield is currently impacted by the mosquitoes, Abbott said. They've most recently expanded into Oildale and northwest Bakersfield, he said.
"Though they're not carrying any diseases yet, they are a nuisance," Abbott said. "These are the mosquitoes that interrupt backyard barbecues and birthday parties. They could very well be a concern in the future."
When the species was first detected in Kern County in 2014, it was thought it wouldn't survive the climate here, but they quickly adapted, Abbott said, noting that they probably were transported inside a car from one of the surrounding areas that was already infected, like Clovis or Los Angeles.
The mosquito's presence locally is higher than it was this time last summer, when it was only active in about 12 neighborhoods.
Plus, these mosquitoes love the warm weather, said Michelle Corson, public information officer for the Kern County Public Health Services Department.
"Some seasons are going to be heavier with mosquitoes," Corson said. "This is the time of year when mosquitoes are out and about."
Corson said the public health department is concerned about West Nile virus. Kern County has seen 10 cases so far this summer, which is not abnormal, she said, but the virus still is a cause for concern. It's important for people to protect themselves from mosquitoes and prevent breeding opportunities for the pest.
The mosquitoes breed in standing water, like bird baths and water bowls for pets. Public Health and Kern Mosquito and Vector Control are urging Kern residents to police their own yards and eliminate even the smallest sources of water to stop the spread of these mosquitoes. A bottle cap with water in it is enough for these mosquitoes to breed, Abbott said.
"The only way this will be resolved is with people being responsible for their own property. A lot of people will be but there’s plenty that won’t, unfortunately," Abbott said.
Abbott underscored how persistent these mosquitoes are.
"They're going to be such a nuisance that they're going to follow you around your yard, looking for the blood meal," Abbott said. "The only thing that’s going to help is cold weather."