Mosquitoes, ticks ‘big this season’ in Georgia

By Julie Jordan
Published May 20, 2019

Mosquito season is difficult to define. Often it is not the mosquitoes themselves that pose a threat but the potential viruses they carry. The same is true for ticks. The most common mosquito-borne disease in Georgia is West Nile Virus, and its season is June through October, peaking in August. Ticks are most active from April to September, and Georgians are particularly susceptible to tickborne Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Now is the perfect time to begin practicing good mosquito- and tick-protection habits, considering Georgia’s winter.  

“Georgia had a relatively mild and very wet winter, so nuisance mosquitoes got an early start this year,” said Georgia Department of Public Health Entomologist Rosmarie Kelly. “Hot and humid weather with periodic rain will bring out the mosquitoes in number. And tick season is likely to be a big one too.”     

The nuisance mosquito breeds when there is flooding. After Georgia’s wet winter, many nuisance mosquitoes appeared, but most do not carry diseases. The real threat begins in June when mosquitoes are likely to carry West Nile Virus. But with nuisance mosquitoes all around, now is the time to begin preparing to protect against mosquito-borne disease.

If contracted, West Nile Virus may cause flu-like symptoms and in some instances, paralysis or even death. Older individuals are the most likely to contract West Nile Virus, as their immune systems are often weaker.  

Other mosquito-borne diseases in Georgia include Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) and La Crosse encephalitis (LAC). Saint Louis encephalitis (SLE) was reported last year in Georgia for the first time since the 1970s.  

Ticks are most active during warmer months from April to September, although there are some ticks that like cooler weather. Some ticks carry diseases like Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF). Their habitat is grassy, brushy or wooded areas or on animals. When spending time outside walking your dog for example, you may encounter ticks. After you come inside, check your clothing for ticks, examine gear and pets, shower soon and check your body for ticks. Remove ticks you find using tweezers.  Do not use Vaseline, alcohol or any other substance on attached ticks, as this could increase your risk of getting a disease from the tick.

Prevent mosquito and tick bites, and avoid the viruses they carry, by following these steps.   

Protect against nuisance mosquitoes and mosquito-borne disease like West Nile Virus:

  • Wear EPA-registered repellant with DEET, picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus
  • Tip ‘n toss any standing water (where mosquitoes breed)
  • Clean up your yard and your neighborhood (mosquitoes lay eggs in containers like old tires)
  • Stay indoors when mosquitoes are bad

Protect against ticks and tick-borne diseases like RMSF:

  • Wear EPA-registered repellant with DEET or picaridin
  • Do a tick check after walking through grass
  • Remove ticks quickly to lower the risk of a tick-borne disease