Mosquito Outbreak Plagues Northern Wisconsin

Long Winter, Fast Warm-Up Contribute To Heavy Mosquito Population

Mosquitos have been keeping many northern Wisconsinites indoors. Photo: Alve Halvorsen (CC-BY-NC).

Some longtime residents of Wisconsin’s Northwoods say this spring’s mosquito outbreak is among the worst in memory.

“Mosquitoes are the bane of my existence right now,” said Ed Hammer, who runs Wisconsin River Outfitters from his home in rural Tomahawk. “They’re just about ready to carry me and my partner away.

Added Hammer: “I’ve got two dogs. One dog doesn’t even want to go outside. The other dog, he doesn’t care, but he’s bit up all over. The belly’s just red.“

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Hammer rents out canoes and kayaks for excursions on the Wisconsin River. The mosquitoes are so bad that he’s telling would-be customers to go away.

“I’m not putting anybody out,” he said. “I’ve had a few calls from people, and I’m just saying, ‘Hey look, the mosquitoes are just so bad, I’m not going to make you suffer through three hours on the river with them.’”

The long, snowy winter and cold spring were followed by a quick warm-up and rain – conditions that are perfect for growing mosquitoes, according to P.J. Liesch, manager of the University of Wisconsin-Madison insect diagnostic lab.

“We had this very cold spring, and then everything kind of melted very quickly, and it’s almost like we skipped over spring and went right to summer,” said Liesch. “And so with this mixture of rain we’ve been getting and heat, the fuse has been lit on the mosquito time bomb.”

Liesch says mosquito eggs had no trouble surviving the subzero winter temperatures beneath the snow cover.