Mosquitoes and black flies swarm Wisconsin

Mosquitoes and black flies swarm Wisconsin
UW Entomologist Phil Pelliteri

Zoe Zitur is feeling itchy this summer. She’s been keeping count of the number of bug bites nearly covering her legs.

“A million at least,” Zoe said.

Along with that rough count, the 5-year-old says her parents have been reading to her about bugs. Even Zoe has noticed the influx of pests this summer on her morning trip to Elver Park.

“There are so many bugs,” Zoe said.

“They play outside a lot and they come home and they have bug bites all over them and mosquito bites and stuff like that,” Zoe’s dad Mark Zituer said. “So yeah, there’s been a lot of bugs this summer. More than I’m used to.”

UW entomologist Phil Pelliteri said the flooding rains brought mosquitoes back in full force across the state.

“This is normal nasty, and normal nasty is not fun,” Pellitteri said.

On top of mosquitoes, Pellitteri said black flies are particularly bad this summer. Usually, those gnat-like insects are worst at the end of May and beginning of June. The later rainfall pushed back the bug season, and if we see more heavy precipitation, it could mean weeks of the same “nasty,” Pellitteri said.

“If it stays as wet as it is,” Pellitteri explained, “this will last to the second or third hard frost.”

Pellitteri mentioned when people compare this season to the drought-ridden summer last year, it can seem even worse.

“Last year was the anomaly,” Pellitteri said. “That was the not norm situation. But people kind of forget that there’s a reason we have screened-in houses.”

At REI in Madison, store manager Wendy Crabb had a hard time keeping enough bug spray on the shelves. She said sales over the past couple of weeks are up 70 percent compared with last year.

“The bugs are really bad right now, and even people in their backyards are getting, just swarms and swarms of bugs are coming at people,” Crabb said, “so people are trying to figure out ways to even be outside, to be in their garden.”

Experts say people should expect bugs to be bad through the next couple of weeks