Chicago, IL

Chicago is ranked one of the worst cities for mosquitos

Jennifer Geer

At least Chicago isn't number one. That honor goes to Los Angeles, according to Orkin's annual Mosquito City list.
(Егор Камелев/Pixabay)

The people at Orkin must really love Chicago. This year Chicago has been number one for Orkin's Top Bed Bugs Cities and their Rattiest City lists. And in May, Chicago was rated fifth for Mosquito Cities.

The top mosquito honors should come as no surprise to anyone living in Chicagoland that has attempted to sit outside and enjoy a warm summer evening.

Orkin gets their ratings by ranking the number of customers making calls about mosquitos from April 1, 2020, to March 31, 2021. It's the second year in a row Chicago was number five.

Top 10 worst cities for mosquitoes

Orkin's top 10 Mosquito City list is below. You can go here for the complete list of 50 cities.

  1. Los Angeles
  2. Atlanta
  3. Washington, DC
  4. Dallas
  5. Chicago
  6. New York
  7. Detroit
  8. Miami
  9. Charlotte
  10. Raleigh-Durham

According to the folks at Orkin, due to the pandemic, outside activities were maximized last year and they expect that trend to continue through 2021. Which means more opportunities for mosquitos to bite.

Mosquitoes become active when temperatures rise above 68 degrees Fahrenheit at night. The usual breeding season for mosquitos is between May through September.

Mosquitoes carry diseases

Mosquito-borne diseases (diseases spread by the bite of a mosquito) can be severe. In Illinois, West Nile Virus is the most common. Dengue, chikungunya, and Zika virus have been found in some southern US states and territories.

The West Nile Virus was first discovered to be in Illinois in September of 2001. One year later, every county in the state, except for two, reported cases of it. In 2020, Illinois recorded 29 cases and 4 deaths from West Nile Virus.

West Nile Virus can cause severe illness and even death. Most likely, human cases are underreported, as 80% of people infected with it will not have any symptoms and will never know they were infected.

How to prevent mosquito bites

Even if the mosquito that bites you isn't carrying a deadly disease, mosquito bites are an itchy nuisance. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), there are some proven steps that can reduce your chance of bites.

  1. Avoid times that mosquitoes will be at their peak. Usually, this is before dawn; and before and after sunset. However, there are types of mosquitoes in Illinois that come out during daylight hours in wooded areas.
  2. When you are outside during times or at places mosquitoes are active, use a DEET-based insect repellent.
  3. Keep your doors and window screens in good repair. Use mosquito netting outside when possible.
  4. Wear long-sleeved tops and long pants made of tightly woven materials. Tuck your pants into your boots or socks.

Note: if you don't want to use DEET products, the CDC recommends some other options:

  • Picaridin
  • IR3535
  • Oil of lemon eucalyptus
  • Para-menthane-diol
  • 2-undecanone

The EPA has an online search tool to help you choose the right repellant for you.
How to apply repellent to your face(courtesy of the CDC)

Keep mosquitoes out of your yard

The best way to avoid mosquito bites is to keep mosquitoes away from your home in the first place. Keep your backyard from becoming a breeding ground by getting rid of standing water in your backyard.

Mosquitoes can breed in small amounts of water like birdbaths or water around plant containers.

You can also choose a windy spot for your outdoor activities or plug in a fan. Mosquitoes have trouble flying in winds above 1 MPH, and even a slight breeze will help keep them away.

You can plant certain types of plants (citronella, lavender, lemongrass, marigolds, and basil) to help keep mosquitoes away.

But you should know, it would take a large amount of these plants to have much effect. And even then, it wouldn't keep all of the mosquitoes out of your yard. Think of plants as one of your many tools to prevent mosquitoes, but don't expect it to be the only one.

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Jennifer covers lifestyle content and local news for the Chicago area.

Chicago, IL

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