A buzz whispers in her ear. It’s too quiet to notice. A few moments later, another buzz over her head. She starts to stir. The buzzing continues, and she can’t ignore it anymore.
Emily Jensen slowly gets up, trying to find the mosquito. Her belly is big, at month five of her pregnancy.
She had been dealing with this during the summer of 2021, and it’s since turned into a sort of paranoia for her, she said, constantly worrying about mosquitoes.
Jensen said she’s spoken with government officials, but she brought her concerns to The Coronado News in hopes that others on the island would take steps to fight the pesky insects that can carry diseases.
The city of Coronado on Oct. 6, 2022 posted this warning: “Three invasive Aedes mosquitoes that are not native to California have been detected in San Diego. Coronado residents may have noticed more bites.”
The warning remains on the website, but Jensen believes more can be done.
“They can spray my property everytime, but it’s not a long-term solution.”-Coronado resident Emily Jensen on mosquito problems on the island.
“They can spray my property everytime, but it’s not a long-term solution,” Jensen says.
And, to her, it’s personal because she’s highly allergic to mosquito bites, with the bites swelling and turning red on her body.
“They actually included mosquito venom in my desensitization shots because they tested me and I was really allergic to it,” Jensen says.
Jensen moved to Coronado with her husband, Larsen, in the fall of 2019, unaware of the summers they were about to experience.
By the next year, mosquitoes were buzzing in her home on A Avenue.
She said the mosquitoes are patterned, with white and black stripes on their backs, and much more active than the regular house mosquito.
These mosquitoes have the ability to carry diseases with them, although there haven’t been cases of any viruses being transmitted to anyone in San Diego, so far, according to San Diego’s Vector Control Program (VCP).
“Throughout the region, there are around 50 known breeding sites that are treated by helicopter…VCP has been conducting routine aerial larvicide applications for about 20 years,” says Donna Durckel, group communications officer for the Land Use and Environment Group in the County of San Diego.
VCP began their routine aerial larvicide applications of the year a couple weeks ago on April 26th.
No working outside
Jensen’s home is lined with windows and big glass doors that lead into the backyard.
Windows that she’d like to open, but can’t because of the swarms of mosquitoes that would fly in, she said.
A dental hygienist with her Masters in Public Health, Jensen took an immediate interest in this issue after her family moved to Coronado.
“Last year was so bad that we couldn’t even open those doors all summer.”-Jensen on the mosquito issue.
“Last year was so bad that we couldn’t even open those doors all summer…and then because the mosquitoes were so bad, I couldn’t even work in the garden because we got bit to pieces,” Jensen said.
Where they’re coming from
Jensen studied these mosquitoes, trying to understand where they were coming from and how to prevent them.
She found that they lay their eggs in still water.
This included bird baths, the saucers under plants and storm water drains.
Jensen worked with San Diego’s Vector Control Program to figure out where the mosquitoes were laying eggs in her neighborhood.
“Another big one that was breeding them on my block is construction sites, the porta potties. There’s a drainage thing along the base that traps water,” Jensen said.
Jensen became so entrenched in the battle, she describes how she shined a flashlight on water, flicking the vessel that the mosquitoes were in.
From afar, the larvae resemble small black worms that flick back and forth when disturbed.
Upon closer inspection, they are a bit lighter colored with a little head and a bigger body before thinning out for their tails. During this stage, they can grow to about ½ an inch, according to the American Mosquito Control Association.
“There were hundreds and hundreds of larvae,” said Jensen.
Finding a permanent solution
There are a number of ways that residents of Coronado and Vector Control have helped to mitigate the issue.
However, they don’t seem to be permanent solutions, Jensen remarks.
The Aedes mosquitoes can go from egg to adult in less than a week and with the amount of rain San Diego has been getting this winter and spring, Jensen is worried about the still water lingering in the city.
“I just want the news to be spread.”-Jensen on the mosquito issue.
“I just want the news to be spread. We live virtually on an island…we could potentially eliminate them,” Jensen says.