Why mosquito numbers are set to soar across Australia's east coast - and how you can make sure the annoying bloodsuckers don't ruin your summer nights

Australians have been warned to be on the lookout for mosquitoes as a long, hot and wet summer creates the perfect breeding conditions for the insect.
  • Experts warn La Nina weather patterns will lead to increase in mosquito numbers
  • Heavy rain and warm temperatures are perfect breeding ground for the insects 
  • Increase in numbers have led to a rapid increase in Ross River fever infections 
  • Experts recommend wearing repellent and long sleeves to prevent getting bites 

Experts have predicted La Nina weather patterns bringing hotter and wetter conditions to Australia's eastern seaboard will lead to an explosion in mosquito numbers. 

These conditions are perfect for the tiny critters, with La Nina expected to continue raining havoc Down Under until at least February 2021.

The east coast has already sweated through its hottest November temperatures on record and is currently in the grips of devastating rains and flash flooding in response to the weather phenomena. 

This has sparked fears that there could be an outbreak of mosquito-borne diseases such as the 'potentially fatal' Murray Valley encephalitis virus and the Ross River virus.

Gold Coast City Council has increased the number of mosquito larviciding aerial treatments to try and combat growing numbers of the annoying insects.

Treatments will take place from Wednesday to Friday in areas including Coombabah, Pimpama, Rocky Point, Helensvale, Hope Island, Oyster Cove and The Bay Islands.

The last time Australia experienced a La Nina was in 2010 and 2011, when Queensland was battered by floods.

Cameron Webb, Clinical Associate Professor and Principal Hospital Scientist from University of Sydney, said similar weather patterns have sparked a mosquito population boom in the past.  

'Mosquitoes lay their eggs on or around stagnant or still water. This could be water in ponds, backyard plant containers, clogged gutters, floodplains or wetlands,' he wrote for The Conversation.

'Mosquito larvae hatch and spend the next week or so in the water before emerging as adults and buzzing off to look for blood.

'If the water dries up, they die. But the more rain we get, the more opportunities there are for mosquitoes to multiply.'

Homeowners can effectively reduce the number of mosquitos around their home by emptying any pots or containers after rainfall.

Dr Webb said an increase in mosquito numbers is likely to escalate the risk of the diseases they spread, especially the Ross River virus.

There has been an increase in Ross River cases in south-east Queensland, with 3,360 cases recorded this year.

Infection numbers for Ross River in NSW in April were the highest they have been in nearly 30 years, totaling 434 cases, which was five times more than the previous year.

Ross River fever is spread through mosquito bites and includes symptoms like a rash, fever, aching joints and fatigue.

Victoria had an outbreak of the Rose River virus in the summer of 2016.

Mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn, with experts recommending people wear insect repellent and put on a shirt with long sleeves to prevent getting bites.

Entomologist Stephen Doggett told 7news the best way to avoid mosquitoes is to avoid areas prone to them in the early morning and late afternoon.

Using a mosquito net and installing insect netting on windows is also effective. 

Mr Doggett said it is important to cover up and make sure you wear repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, or eucalyptus.

'Most importantly, read the label and see when you need to reapply it - because there are different reapplication rates for different products and different percentages of the chemical that's inside the repellent,' he said.

People are also advised to close their windows and doors, and use insecticide if found in the home.

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