Expect a swarm of mosquitoes after wet winter, spring

If you haven't been annoyed by a mosquito yet this year, chances are you probably will soon.

After a wet winter and spring, Horry County employees and private exterminators are busy trying to get ahead of those pesky bugs.

Debbie Oberlin has a mosquito problem in her back yard in Carolina Forest.

When she takes her poodles Maggie and Lucy out for a walk in the morning, the biting insects get all over her arms and legs.

"They're bigger than they were last year, they seem to be growing," Oberlin said. "It seems like they're here earlier than they were last year."

Oberlin thinks the water that sometimes collects around a drain behind her fence is the culprit.

It's true that stagnant water is where mosquitoes breed, so the experts say you should get rid of standing water if you want to keep the pests out of your back yard.

"Pet toys, children's toys, anything where there's water that collects in something that's on the ground," said Lennie Johnson, general manager of Lane's Pest Elimination in Myrtle Beach. "Drainage ditches, retention ponds, anything like that."

Lane's has been busy this spring spraying homeowners' bushes where mosquitoes gather during the day eating nectar from the leaves.

At the same time, Horry County employees are dropping larvicide tablets into some 6,000 drainage ponds around the county.

When that's done, they'll start spraying.

"We do have some areas in Carolina Forest and Atlantic Beach that we're actually finishing up (treatment) the end of this week, but we'll have that completed and then start putting the trucks into motion," said Horry County public information officer Lisa Bourcier.

Last year, South Carolina had 40 West Nile virus cases, the most since 2001.

The disease is spread by mosquitoes, which Oberlin keeps in mind every day.

"If I come out here with the dogs, I'll put bug spray on, because I don't want to get that West Nile," she said.