KANSAS CITY, Mo. —Rhonda Wiley lives five miles from the nearest floodwaters — not far enough. Every time she walks out her door in northwest Missouri, she gets blanketed by mosquitoes.
Beyond the drowned farmlands, evacuated homes and closed roads, mosquitoes have become a small but annoying consequence of this year's Missouri River flooding.
They're thriving in flood-plagued areas, using the standing water to multiply in droves. Some cities have increased preventative measures, but residents can expect the blood-suckers to be horrid all summer.
"You walk outside and within seconds you can see them on your arms," said Wiley, director of emergency management for Atchison County, Mo.
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"We've lived here 10 years, and this is the first year we've had to spray our yard."
The stagnant pools create the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes, say experts with the Missouri Department of Conservation.
"There will be plenty of habitat for them to do their thing and plenty of mosquito larva," said Sean Cleary, wildlife management biologist.
Some cities' crews are taking steps to keep the swarms at bay. Bobby Hall, city supervisor in Elwood, Kan., said crews are spraying up and down the streets every night. The chemical, called Biomist, uses pyrethrum derived from plant extracts and is supposed to knock the wings off the mosquitoes.
He said the crews started a little over a week ago and will continue until the water is gone, which may be awhile. The city has received complaints from the public about mosquitoes, and Hall said the problem is even worse for workers.
"When you're out there and working on sewer pumps and throwing sand bags and mowing, that's when you get bit," Hall said.
Cliff Kreutzer, street department employee for Leavenworth, Kan., has been working the 3-to-midnight shift monitoring water pumps. He sprays on repellent before he goes out, but it doesn't help much. "When you're out there, they are thick," he said. "I probably get bit 10 to 15 times each time I work."
As annoying as mosquito bites may be, they don't appear to carry the West Nile virus, said representatives with the Missouri Health Department. The state has recorded no West Nile cases in humans this year.