Climate change could lead to increased mosquito, tick populations in Iowa


Nick Fetty | August 21, 2014
Environmental advocates warm that mosquito and tick populations in Iowa could increase because of climate change. (naturegirl 78/Flickr)
Environmental advocates warn that mosquito and tick populations in Iowa could increase because of climate change. (naturegirl 78/Flickr)

A report by the National Wildlife Federation released earlier this week finds that climate change could lead to an increase in mosquito and tick populations as well as stronger strains of poison ivy and more green algae blooms.

These effects will likely have a direct impact on the Hawkeye State. Iowa has seen increased amounts of rainfall precipitation and higher humidity levels in recent years, much of which can be attributed to climate change. Cases of West Nile Virus – the mosquito-borne illness that can lead to fevers and even death – have also been on the rise in Iowa in recent years. There were nine cases of West Nile Virus in Iowa in 2011 and by 2013 that number had increased to 44.

Higher temperatures and greater levels of precipitation will also affect other blood-sucking pests such as deer ticks, an insect that can withstand mild winters. More than 30,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported each year in the U.S.

These climate changes will not only affect insect populations but also plants. Increased carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels is expected to cause poison ivy to spread more easily and also be more potent. Green algae blooms have also been problematic in Iowa and this too is expected to worsen.

To combat these issues, the report calls for a reduction in carbon pollution through more efficient utilization of renewable energy sources as well as the implantation of certain safeguards for wildlife and wildlife habitat.

West Nile virus arrives early in Iowa


Photo by Gerald Yuvallos; Flickr
Photo by Gerald Yuvallos; Flickr

According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, three cases of the West Nile virus have been reported in Iowa so far this year. The mosquito-borne virus has appeared in the state during early autumn since 2002.

So far, one human case has been reported in each of three counties: Clay, Monona, and Woodbury. The State Hygienic Laboratory, which also tests mosquitos, reports that one mosquito pool has tested positive for the virus.

Symptoms of the virus may include fever, aches and vomiting. More serious symptoms, including brain swelling, affect less than one percent of infected people.

Officials encourage Iowans to use insect repellent when outdoors, especially during evenings, and to avoid standing water.

Mosquitoes, ticks reflect larger concerns


Photo by Joe Oughton; Flickr
Photo by Joe Oughton; Flickr

The quickly expanding territories of pests like the Asian tiger mosquito and the deer tick may be more than just annoying. Experts say that they are signs of larger issues, for both our health and the environment. Continue reading

On the Radio: West Nile virus continues past summer


Photo by Abdulmajeed AlShatri, Flickr.

Check out this week’s radio segment here or read the transcript below.  It reminds listeners to be wary of West Nile virus into October.

The summer is gone, but Iowans shouldn’t put away their mosquito repellant just yet. Continue reading