BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – When summer rolls in, there are several reasons to celebrate the season in Louisiana. Our favorite snowball stands open. Pool parties abound, and shrimp is in season.

But warmer months also mark the return of pesky unwelcomed visitors, mosquitoes.

The male versions of these small, winged bugs typically feed on plant juice. But the females are known for their bloodthirsty bites. They bite both human and animal skin and then suck the host’s blood. The protein in the blood helps mature their eggs.

After a person is bitten by a mosquito, their skin is often left with an itchy, raised bump. Experts say the mosquito’s saliva is what causes the irritation and swelling.

An analysis of the nation’s most mosquito-prone state

A recent report on mosquito hotspots across the U.S. revealed that Louisiana is the most mosquito-prone state in the nation.

The study says our state earned the unwanted top spot thanks to our hot and humid summers. These are the ideal breeding grounds for mosquitoes. According to the report, “In 2022, the average temperature from May-July was 81.3°F. Additionally, the state’s high average summer rainfall and variety of mosquito species make it an ideal place for mosquitoes to breed and thrive.” 

West Nile Virus: What you need to know

Unfortunately, the female mosquito’s bite isn’t simply an annoyance, it can lead to deadly consequences.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “West Nile virus is the most common virus spread by mosquitoes in the continental United States. People can also get sick from less common viruses spread by mosquitoes, like La Crosse encephalitis or St. Louis encephalitis. In rare cases, these can cause severe disease or even be deadly.”

Last summer, the Louisiana Department of Health reported that West Nile virus had been found in more than 175 mosquito pools across Louisiana. This indicated a significant risk that the virus could spread to humans.

Experts say people over 50 are more susceptible to becoming seriously ill after catching West Nile. And at this time, there is no cure or vaccine for the virus.

How to stay safe

Considering the potential dangers mosquitoes pose, what can we do to protect ourselves during the summer months?

LDH suggests:

  • When you go outside, wear EPA-registered approved mosquito repellent and follow the directions when applying it.
  • When indoors, make sure windows and doors are closed and secure so the bugs can’t slip inside.
  • Don’t leave standing water around your home, this will attract mosquitoes.

Click here for more information from LDH about mosquito safety in Louisiana and West Nile virus.