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Glad You Asked: Why is there a West Nile threat during a drought?

“We tend to see more West Nile virus under hot, dry conditions,” Todd Hanson told the Herald, “which we’ve had a lot this summer.”

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Q: Why, during a drought, is Grand Forks experiencing a problem with West Nile mosquitoes?

The species of mosquito that is the primary vector for the West Nile virus in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota is the “ culex tarsalis ,” and those mosquitoes do relatively well in drought conditions, according to Todd Hanson, the manager of Grand Forks Mosquito Control, which is a division of Grand Forks Public Health.

“We tend to see more West Nile virus under hot, dry conditions,” Hanson told the Herald, “which we’ve had a lot this summer.”

This summer has been one of the driest in recent memory, and Hanson said that the average number of mosquitoes caught in his department’s traps is the lowest he’s seen since he started the job in 1995.

The most mosquitoes city workers found in a trap this year has been 10, on Sept. 13, according to city data .


Crews in Grand Forks and East Grand Forks performed their first widespread spray for mosquitoes on Thursday, Sept. 16. In other years , they’ve “fogged” parts of the area as many as 22 times.

Glad You Asked is a segment in the Grand Forks Herald. Do you have a locally interesting question you'd like answered? Submit it to letters@gfherald.com and we'll consider it. Be sure to put "Glad You Asked" in the subject line.

Joe Bowen is an award-winning reporter at the Duluth News Tribune. He covers schools and education across the Northland.

You can reach him at:
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