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Rainy Winter Has Led To Increase In Bugs In San Diego County

A sampling of bugs is seen in this undated photo.
San Diego Natural History Museum
A sampling of bugs is seen in this undated photo.

Rainy Winter Has Led To Increase In Bugs In San Diego County
Rainy Winter Has Led To Increase In Bugs In San Diego County GUEST: Michael Wall, Ph.D., entomologist and vice president of research and public programs, San Diego Natural History Museum

SAN DIEGO IS ENJOYING AN UNUSUAL GREEN AND FLOWERY SPRING AND APPARENTLY WE HUMANS ARE NOT THE ONLY ONES ENJOYING IT. A VARIETY OF INSECTS ARE IN THE PROCESS OF DEVOURING PLANTS AND USING MOIST ENVIRONMENT TO PRODUCE A BUMPER CROP OF BUGS. SOME BUGS ARE DELIGHT FOLK AND OTHERS ANNOYING BUT IF WE GET AN UNUSUALLY LARGE NUMBER OF MOSQUITOES WE COULD BE IN TROUBLE. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH SPOKE TO ENTOMOLOGIST DOCTOR MICHAEL WALL WHO WAS V.P. RESEARCH FOR THAN SAN DIEGO NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM ABOUT -- FOR THE SAN DIEGO NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM ABOUT MOSQUITOES. IT'S A SPECIES THAT LOOKS A LITTLE LIKE A REALLY BIG MOSQUITO AND TELL US ABOUT THEM. PEOPLE HAVE BEEN SEEING WHAT PEOPLE CALL MOSQUITO HAWKS AND SOME PEOPLE, CREAM FLIES AND SWAMP ANGELS. A WIDE VARIETY OF NAMES ACROSS THE SPECTRUM BUT THEY DO INDEED LOOK LIKE A VERY LARGE MOSQUITO BUT THEY DO NOT FEED ON BLOOD AND UNLIKE MOSQUITO HAWK THEY DON'T FEED ON MOSQUITOES EITHER. THEY DON'T BITE OR CURE DISEASE. NODDED ALL. MANY DO NOT EVEN HAVE FUNCTIONAL MOUTH PARTS. THEY OPERATE ON THEIR FAT RESERVES FROM WHAT THEY BUILT UP FROM A LARVA OR MAGGOT. THERE ALSO SEEM TO BE A LOT OF GNATS EVERYWHERE. ARE THERE DIFFERENT TYPES OF GNATS OR ARE THEY ALL THE SAME THAT HOVER AROUND YOUR FACE AND FALL INTO YOUR DRINK? ANNETTE IS A COMMON NAME THAT APPLIES TO A LOT OF DIFFERENT TYPES OF FLIES. SOME OF THEM ARE BOTHERSOME AND SEEM TO WANT TO -- A GNAT IT'S A COMMON NAME THAT APPLIES TO A LOT OF DIFFERENT FLIES AND SOME ARE BOTHERSOME AND OTHERS HISTORICALLY IN SAN DIEGO HAVE CAUSED PROBLEMS LATER IN THE SUMMER. THE GNATS THAT LIKE TO COME AROUND AND SUCK THE JUICE OUT OF THE CORNER OF YOUR EYE OR YOUR LIVESTOCK SIZE. OKAY. WHEN IS THE LAST TIME WE SAW A BUMPER CROP OF BUGS LIKE THIS? HAVE BEEN LIVING IN SAN DIEGO FOR 11 YEARS NOW AND THE LAST TIME I REMEMBER HAVING A BUMPER CROP I THINK IT WAS ABOUT NINE YEARS AGO AND WHAT WE ENDED UP HAVING WAS SOME SIMILAR THINGS THAT WE ARE SEEING A LOT OF. I AM GETTING A LOT OF CALLS ABOUT THESE WHITE LINES SINK MOSS -- MOTH AND IT LOOKS LIKE A HUMMINGBIRD AND IT COMES UP AND DRINKS NECTAR AND ABOUT NINE YEARS AGO WE HAD A HUGE CROP OF THOSE FLYING AROUND. PETCO PARK DURING THE EARLY GAMES OF THE YEAR AND PEOPLE WERE FREAKED OUT AND THOUGHT THEY WERE BATS. SO I WOULD SAY IT WAS NINE YEARS AGO. ONTO A BUG WE LIKE TO SEE. ARE FLIES. WHAT TYPE OF BUTTERFLIES MIGHT WE SEE MORE OF BACK. WHAT I WAS HOPING TO SEE HER THOUGHT WE WERE GOING TO SEE WAS A MIGRATION OF PAINTED LADIES. WE SEE THOSE PERIODICALLY AND I THINK THE LAST ONE MINUTE BEEN 2015. IN 2013 I SAW SOME NEWSPAPER ARTICLES ABOUT A BUT THE PAINTED LADIES LIKE TO EAT PRETTY MUCH ANY SORT OF FRESHLY GROWING ANNUAL PLANTS. ALL THOSE WILDFLOWERS OUT THERE IN THE DESERT BACK IN FEBRUARY SHOULD'VE BEEN PRIME HABITAT FOR THE PAINTED LADIES BUT WE HAVE NOT SEEN THEM THIS YEAR. WE'VE SEEN PAINTED LADIES BUT NOT THE HUGE NUMBERS I WAS EXPECTING. WILL WE SEE ANY OTHER SPECIES OF BUTTERFLY AND BIGGER POPULATIONS? I CAN'T GIVE ANY OF HAND WE WOULD EXPECT TO SEE IN LARGE NUMBERS. AS YOU ARE DRIVING UP THE FIVE IN SAN DIEGO OR ALONG ANY OF THE HIGHWAYS WE SEE THESE HILLS OF THIS YELLOW MISTY FLOWER AND THAT'S A NON-NATIVE MUSTARD THERE ARE A LOT OF BUTTERFLIES THAT DO FEED ON MUSTARDS CABBAGE WHITES, THESE LITTLE WHITE BUTTERFLIES BUT THEY DON'T SEEM TO PREFER THAT INVASIVE SPECIES SO YOU MIGHT. TO SEE CABBAGE WHITES BUT I HAVE NOT SEEN THAT MANY. ONE BUG WE ARE GOING TO SEE AN INCREASE IN IS MOSQUITOES THAT COULD CAUSE HEALTH RISKS. COULD YOU TELL US ABOUT THAT? THERE ARE TWO INVASIVE SPECIES OF MOSQUITOES THAT CARRY DISEASE HERE IN SAN DIEGO. ONE OF THEM IS 80s CHIP DIE AND THE OTHER IS 80s ELBOW. THIS AND THEY CARRY WEST NILE AND ALWAYS CONSIDERING THE NEWS THAT HIT LAST YEAR -- SO FAR THE POPULATION IS SURPRISINGLY NOT THAT MUCH MORE THAN NORMAL BUT THIS IS NOT THE SEASON FOR THEM. IT'S REALLY WHEN WE GET INTO JUNE AND JULY THAT WE MIGHT SEE LARGE NUMBERS CROP UP SO IT'S PRETTY IMPORTANT FOR PEOPLE TO REALLY TRY TO DO MOSQUITO CONTROL AROUND THEIR HOUSE IN TERMS OF KEEPING STANDING WATER AT A MINIMUM IF NONEXISTENT. WHAT OTHER TYPES OF INSECTS MIGHT UNDERGO A POPULATION BOOM? WITH TOP ALL THOSE MOSQUITO HAWKS AND ONE OF THE THINGS I'M. DING AND THAT MIGHT CROP UP OUT OF THE WOODWORK IS THERE'S A BEETLE CALLED THE CATERPILLAR HUNTER BEETLE AND AS THE NAMES JUST LIKES TO EAT CATERPILLARS. IF THERE ARE MORE CATERPILLARS AROUND WE SHOULD HAVE MORE OF THESE CATERPILLAR HUNTERS AROUND AND THAT IS SOMETHING THAT HAPPENED BEFORE. WE GOT A LOT OF BLACK BEETLES THE PEOPLE THOUGHT WERE YOUR STANDARD STINK BEETLE YOU SEE ON THE TRAILS AROUND SAN DIEGO. I'M WONDERING IF WE WILL SEE THOSE. TERMITES, BEES, ANTS? YOU KNOW TERMITES IT'S HARD FOR ME TO IMAGINE WHY THERE WOULD BE AN INCREASE IN THE POPULATION BASED ON JUST MOISTURE OR TERMINATE. ANTS, THE INVASIVE ARGENTINE ANT WHICH IS A BIG PROBLEM. IT COMES INTO PEOPLE'S HOMES LATER IN THE YEAR AND THEY REALLY DO BENEFIT FROM MOISTURE SO WE COULD SEE SOME LARGER POPULATIONS OF ARGENTINE ANTS AND WITH THE BEES THE EXPECTATION WOULD BE THAT FOR OUR NATIVE BEES THEY WILL ACTUALLY BE MORE OF THEM NEXT YEAR BECAUSE THEY HAVE LIKE AN ANNUAL LIFECYCLE. SO THE MOMS RIGHT NOW THAT ARE OUT THERE FLYING AROUND, THE MOM BEES ARE COLLECTING THE POLLEN FROM ALL THE FLOWERS THEY WILL PUT THAT IN A NEST IN THEIR BABIES WILL BE BORN NEXT YEAR. PRESUMABLY NEXT YEAR MIGHT BE A BANNER YEAR FOR BEES. I'VE BEEN SPEAKING WITH MICHAEL WALL FOR THE SAN DIEGO NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM AND MICHAEL THANK YOU. THANK YOU.

San Diego's above-average rainfall this winter has lead to an increase in plants and thus bugs.

One bug San Diegans have been seeing a lot of is the crane fly. It is often mistaken for a mosquito or a mosquito hawk, but it does not feed on blood and does not eat mosquitoes.

"In fact, many of them don't even have functional mouth parts. As an adult, they often just operate on kind of like their fat reserves from what they built up as a larvae or maggot," said Michael Wall, who holds a doctorate in entomology and is the vice president of research and public programs at the San Diego Natural History Museum.

Another flying nuisance is the gnat. Wall said there are gnats that are just bothersome, while there are also biting gnats and gnats that try to "suck the juice out of the corner of your eye or livestock's eyes."

The wet weather could lead to an increase in mosquitoes, but Wall said it is not yet the season for them.

Wall joined Midday Edition on Tuesday to discuss the types of bugs proliferating in the region as a result of the wet winter.