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Snowstorm has silver lining

Josh Bergeron | Times-Journal Scenic landscape: Snow dusted the landscape at Live Oak Cemetery in Selma last week.  Rain, ice and snow coated the region last week in a rare snowstorm that brought an inch of snow to Dallas County. (Josh Bergeron | Times-Journal)

Josh Bergeron | Times-Journal
Scenic landscape: Snow dusted the landscape at Live Oak Cemetery in Selma last week. Rain, ice and snow coated the region last week in a rare snowstorm that brought an inch of snow to Dallas County. 

While the harsh winter brought in a dangerous snowstorm, it also reduced activity of what most would consider annoying pest.

Dr. John Aho, an associate professor of biology at Auburn University-Montgomery, said the severe cold has momentarily freed Selma of mosquitoes. Aho said the cold temperatures decrease the development rate for mosquitoes in the larval stage.

“There are species out there that have  eggs out there, and their dormant waiting for the water temperatures to warm up and the daylight to lengthen,” Aho said. “Then, we will start seeing them appear again.”

He said the weather has kept mosquitoes out of sight for now, but it only takes a few warm days to increase mosquito activity.

“If we stayed in the 70s, we would start seeing them pretty soon,” Aho said. “They have generation times that are probably measured, for some of them, days to go from eggs to flying adults. It won’t take them long to respond to the warm conditions.”

Central Alabama Farmers Co-Op general manager Tim Wood said the lack of mosquitoes helps farmers and ranchers. Wood said the critters are capable of spreading the equine encephalitis virus to the horses.

The virus can cause the livestock to suffer from appetite loss, dropping eyelids and lower lips, aimless wandering and circling blindness and inability to stand, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention’s website.

“They worst thing mosquitoes could do is spread encephalitis in horses, which is what you call ‘sleeping disease,’” Wood said. “They do have vaccinations to help reduce to the occurrence of encephalitis.”

Aho said mosquitos are also capable of spreading diseases to humans, although the likelihood for mosquitos to spread disease in Alabama is slim.