DENVER (KDVR) — Near Interstate 70 and Colorado Boulevard, on the East side of Denver, a small retention pond normally sits empty — but not this year. 

Historic rainfall has left inches of standing water throughout much of the pond, and with it, a perfect habitat for mosquitos.

“An area like this might not be on our radar in previous years,” Brian Tietze said. “In previous years, it’ll rain and dry up back to dirt, not even mud. But not this year.”

Tietze is a public health investigator for Denver’s Department of Public Health and Environment, which is committing extra resources to mosquito control this spring. 

The heavy rainfall in May and early June has created plenty of habitat for the pesky insects, which could lead to higher populations this summer.

“In our office, we’re definitely preparing for it,” he said.

Is West Nile virus a higher risk this year?

But Tietze cautions it’s too early to know whether we’ll see an elevated risk of West Nile virus, which usually appears in the summer months. 

In 2022, Colorado led the nation with 204 cases and 18 deaths from West Nile virus. 

Tietze said mosquitos first need to bite something with the virus and then bite a human to transfer it, so a higher mosquito population doesn’t always directly correlate to more West Nile cases.

DDPHE shared easy steps you can take to reduce mosquito populations on your property. The most efficient is to eliminate standing water.

“Something as small as a flowerpot dish, if it has an inch of water, it can carry mosquitos, especially if it’s in the shade or has some left-over soil or plant material in it,” he said. “Just dump them over.”

DDPHE also passed along the following advice.

Eliminate mosquito breeding grounds

  • Remove standing water in containers, tires, birdbaths, gutters, or buckets
  • Do not overwater your yard- this can create standing water in gutters, storm sewers, and within your turf and other landscaping
  • Properly maintain fountains and swimming pools by ensuring the water stays circulating, or drain and cover if it is not in use – if these are not an option then apply larvicide as needed

Mosquito bite prevention tips

  • Limit your activity outdoors during dusk and dawn
  • Wear protective clothing like pants and long sleeves when outdoors
  • Wear mosquito repellant containing lemon eucalyptus oil, DEET, picaridian, or IR3535

Prevent mosquitoes around your home

  • Install screens on windows and doors
  • Make sure roof gutters are not clogged and holding water
  • Incorporate xeriscape (non-watered landscaping) to further help reduce the number of mosquitoes in your neighborhood

It’s also too early to know what populations will look like in July and August, Tietze said, because mosquitos only live for about six weeks. 

“Hopefully, since the giant monsoons are coming to an end, these will dry up and won’t be a concern anymore,” he said.