Experts Addressing Wellfleet Mosquito Outbreak

WELLFLEET – Despite region-wide dry conditions, Wellfleet and adjacent towns are experiencing an extreme influx of mosquitoes this summer.

But local experts with the Cape Cod Mosquito Control Project said that they are on the case.

Project Superintendent and Entomologist Gabrielle Sakolsky said that the unusually dry spring and summer on Cape has helped curb mosquito populations across Barnstable County, but Wellfleet is facing a unique problem. 

“Unfortunately, in Wellfleet, we have a situation where there was saltwater that overwashed a dune,” said Sakolsky.

“That saltwater is washing into an area with poor drainage, so that water is standing there. It was within Cape Cod National Seashore boundaries where we were not permitted to work up until they issued us a permit at the beginning of July, so what we have is a large mosquito population that has hatched there.”

Sakolsky said that these mosquitoes are a saltwater variety, capable of flying far and like to feed during the day as well as dusk like their freshwater cousins. 

Their flight range and daytime activity are what has made them a nuisance for neighboring towns like Truro as well.

With permit now in hand, Sakolsky said that crews are already treating the standing water in the area with larval insecticides, though work is slower than usual due to the size and terrain of the area. 

“It’s a place we haven’t been in a number of decades, so it’s taking us a while. It’s taking our crews a lot of time to get through the area, to do surveillance to find out exactly where the mosquitoes are coming from and then to treat that water with the larvicide,” said Sakolsky. 

As the Mosquito Control Project only utilizes larvicides, the current adult population of mosquitoes will remain, though their numbers will likely start to diminish as they die off in the coming weeks, said Sakolsky. 

In the meantime, Sakolsky urged residents to drain any standing water to remove possible breeding grounds for mosquitoes, as well as utilize insect repellent and fix or replace window screens.

About Grady Culhane

Grady Culhane is a Cape Cod native currently living in Eastham. He studied media communications at Cape Cod Community College and joined the News Center in 2019.
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