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Mosquitoes and Hexham Swamp
As part of the Hexham Swamp Rehabilitation Project, the Hunter-Central Rivers Catchment Management Authority (CMA) has been conducting ongoing research on mosquitoes.
The research is being carried out by Dr Cameron Webb from the Department of Medical Entomology, ICPMR and University of Sydney, Westmead Hospital.
CMA General Manager Fiona Marshall said saltmarsh mosquitoes are found throughout the Hunter estuary and will always be active during the warmer months. 'The recent rainfall and king tides of January and February have resulted in a substantial increase in local populations of saltmarsh mosquitoes across the Hunter estuary. Similar mosquito population increases have been experienced in other coastal areas of NSW,' said Ms Marshall.
'The high mosquito populations are not directly linked to the opening of the Hexham Swamp floodgates but the reintroduction of tides to Hexham Swamp has provided opportunities for breeding by this species and monitoring continues to determine if these populations are making a significant additional contribution to local nuisance-biting risks.'
'Living in the Hunter region, it is important that everyone takes their own precautions as mosquitoes are a part of our outdoor lifestyle. The CMA has supported a project coordinated by Hunter New England Health to help raise awareness of mosquitoes and ways to minimise the risk to public health. The following is some information from Hunter New England Health.'
Personal protection is the best way to reduce biting by mosquitoes. Avoid going outside around dusk and dawn as during these periods mosquitoes are most active, particularly close to wetland or bushland areas; wear light-coloured loose fitting clothes including long sleeved shirts, pants and covered footwear where possible; and apply an insect repellent (the best repellents contain at least 20% DEET or Picaridin) to areas of exposed skin. So-called ‘natural’ insect repellents (usually containing plant extracts such as citronella and eucalyptus) only offer limited protection and may not provide sufficient protection alone from mosquitoes. Finally ensure flyscreens are properly fitted to doors and windows and cover chimney tops or ventilation vents during the summer months.
- Different species of mosquitoes are found in fresh, salt, clean and polluted water;
- Temporary and permanent breeding sites include: saltmarsh swamps, pools of water in creeks, tree holes, septic tanks, drainage pits, and household items such as jars, tins and pot plant saucers;
- Healthy wetlands are less likely to produce large numbers of mosquitoes as a balanced ecosystem will contain natural mosquito predators. However, mosquitoes are a natural part of most coastal ecosystems, providing food for birds, bats, fish, frogs and aquatic insects, and will be present in most wetlands; and
- Some mosquitoes can travel over 20 km from wetlands.