Even after a winter as brutal as the past one – or is that because of it? – this summer may suck.
Experts across Michigan are warning of a bumper crop of blood-sucking ticks and mosquitos, as well as the usual bees, wasps, mayflies and spiders, Michigan State University entomologist Howard “The Bug Man” Russell told The Detroit News.
The heavy snowfall that was the bane to many Michiganders’ existences acted like an insulating blanket for ticks and other insects that live in the leaf litter and at the base of trees, protecting them against the brutal temperatures associated with back-to-back Polar Vortex weather patterns, Russell said.
Michigan Department of Community Health spokeswoman Angela Minicuci said ticks are showing up in greater numbers “than we’ve seen before” and have moved from the Upper Peninsula, where they were mainly located until a decade ago, to Lake Michigan’s shoreline and other parts of the Lower Peninsula.
The melting snow also left standing water in low-lying areas – ideal breeding grounds for mosquitoes, which carry West Nile Virus and other diseases. Black-legged ticks, commonly called deer ticks, can carry Lyme Disease.
Last year, two people died in Michigan from West Nile and 36 people became ill, C&G Newspapers reports.
There were 165 human cases of Lyme Disease in 2013, an increase of almost 60 percent from the year prior, according to Michigan Department of Community Health Data.
Both Lyme Disease and West Nile Virus can have effects that range from mild to severe.
“For both Lyme disease and for West Nile virus, there can be some really serious long-term impacts,” Minicuci said. “With West Nile virus, it can lead to serious long-term neurological effects, and because of that, we want to make sure we get ahead of it. There is no treatment for it, so essentially what we do is to try and get rid of the symptoms of it. With Lyme disease, the most severe complications that you could see are also neurological disorders such as cognitive disorders, sleep disturbance and personality changes that can be very severe and chronic. Some of those severe complications could stay with you for quite some time.”