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Get out your party hats because Sunday is World Mosquito Day. Well, maybe don’t do that.

Realize, however, the title for Aug. 20 commemorates the scientific discovery that mosquitoes are linked to the spread of malaria. It does not, however, commemorate the pesky mosquito, which can sound as loud as a jet in the abysmal heat of August in Charleston.

Perhaps the best way to “celebrate” World Mosquito Day is to stay inside and away from the insects. The insect repellant OFF forecasts this week as severe for mosquitoes, which means if  you’re outside,  you might have to resist scratching more of those bumps on your skin than usual. 

Berkeley County’s  Mosquito Abatement Office “has seen an uptick in mosquitoes lately in our coverage area, due to increased rainfall. Our office answered 709 requests for service last year and 742 so far this year,” according to spokesperson Jenna-Ley Jamison. 

But this doesn’t mean Charleston-area residents will suddenly be covered in itchy red bumps or that the situation is out of anyone’s control. There are several things one can do to prevent mosquito bites and lower the risk of mosquito-borne illness. And the good news is that all of them are pretty simple. The Berkeley County Mosquito Abatement Office offers a few prevention tips for the public to stay protected: 

  • Mosquitoes are more active in the early morning and evening time.  Avoid being outside during these times, if you can.
  • Try to stay indoors as much as possible. 
  • When outdoors, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants. 
  • Use insect repellents that contain DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon Eucalyptus, or IR 3535 on skin and clothing. 
  • Keep horses vaccinated and your pets medicated for heartworms.

Severe mosquito forecasts are becoming more common

Of course in the Lowcountry, these pests and the itchy gifts they bring are nothing new. But experts say severe mosquito forecasts are becoming increasingly common as the planet gets warmer. 

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s webpage on Climate Change Indicators for West Nile Virus, “warmer temperatures associated with climate change can accelerate mosquito development, biting rates and the incubation of the disease within a mosquito.” 

To find evidence of climate change, look no further than your backyard. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has collected and ranked the average annual temperatures by county for the past 128 years. Temperatures have risen about 2 degrees Fahrenheit since measurements started. Data show that over the last 12 months, Charleston and Dorchester counties tied as seventh warmest of the state’s 46 counties. Berkeley County was 10th.  

What’s more, Charleston has not only gotten hotter—it’s also gotten a whole lot wetter. This year, for example, Charleston County has been drenched in more than 3 inches above its mean level of precipitation. Dorchester County has gotten an extra 4 inches  with Berkeley County about 2.5 inches. This, too, is a product of the changing climate, says the Environmental Protection Agency, but it’s perhaps most relevant because mosquitos love humid environments. 

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