BILLINGS — This year’s month of June was the third wettest on record in Billings, and all that water unfortunately meant an explosion of mosquitoes.
It was a beautiful day for the Anderson family to picnic at Riverfront Park in south Billings, or so they thought until they stepped out of their car.
“’Skeetos are horrible,” said seven-year-old Amayha Anderson on Tuesday.
Amayha may be young, but she’s right. Mosquitoes are the monster you can’t escape this summer, and that’s because they breed in standing water, something Billings has seen a ton of this season.
“It doesn’t have to be ponds. It can be just puddles, it can be gutters that hold water. The famous examples are tires,” said Dr. James Barron, a professor of biology at MSU Billings.
Barron said the recent hot temperatures haven’t helped either as mosquitoes take longer to breed in cooler water.
“A month ago, it might have taken three or four weeks for mosquitoes to go from egg to mosquito. Now it’s taking about six days,” Barron said.
If you think you get bit by the bugs more than others, you may be right. Barron said mosquitoes are attracted to certain people more than others because of the chemicals that come off the skin.
“I heard that some people are more allergic to them than other people are and that’s why they get so big sometimes, like the big welts I’ve been getting this year when I’ve been bit by mosquitoes,” said Amayha’s mother, Brittany Anderson.
Mosquitoes are so bad in the Copper Ridge neighborhood on the West End that the city had to do something about it.
“We get complaints with ponds like the one behind me, it’s just the standing water, the stagnant water,” said the City of Billings Street and Traffic Superintendent Derick Miller.
The city has started tossing mosquito dunks in the pond as well as one by the golf course in the Heights.
“What it does is it produces a bacteria that’s harmful to the mosquito larvae. It doesn’t hurt the large bug but the larvae are feeding on the bacteria, that’s what kills them,” Miller said.
While the uptick in mosquitoes might be normal for the season, it doesn’t make it any less irritating. Thankfully, Mother Nature has a solution.
“Bats and swallows and insectivorous birds feed on mosquitoes. Fish feed on the larvae. You know, they’re part of the system,” Barron said.