After a harsh winter, area mosquito control officials predict 2014 could be an unusually active year for mosquitoes.
"It has the potential to be an above normal mosquito season due to rains earlier this year," said Jessie Boudreaux, owner of Cajun Mosquito Control in Houma.
Government-contracted spraying to ward off the pest has started.
"We are seeing breeding in Terrebonne and St. Martin parishes that are reflecting the warmer temperatures and rains that have occurred in early 2014," Boudreaux said. "This is a phenomenon that is occurring all along the southern Louisiana coast."
As temperatures warm, residents can expect an upswing in activity in the coming weeks, Boudreaux said.
"Recent rains and warmer temperatures are producing a perfect mosquito hatch-off event of those dormant mosquito eggs," he said.
There are more than 60 types of mosquitoes in Louisiana, and not all of them carry disease. One of the major species that spreads West Nile — the Southern House Mosquito — typically breeds in ditches. Plenty of spring rain can flush out those ditches and prevent those mosquitoes from breeding.
To prevent mosquito bites, avoid being outside at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active. If you are outside, make sure to wear a mosquito repellent with DEET. Children should wear repellents containing no more than 30 percent DEET. Insect repellents shouldn't be worn by children younger than 2 months.
Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants when outdoors for long periods of time. Avoid perfumes and colognes. Make sure your house has tight-fitting windows, screens and doors.
But the No. 1 thing you can do to protect yourself is to remove any standing water around your home or business to prevent mosquitoes from breeding in it. Turn over buckets or plastic wading pools and clean clogged roof gutters.
Something as small and simple as a soda bottle cap can hold enough water to allow mosquitoes to breed.
Officials suggested checking your yard for standing water as part of a ritual when you take out the trash or do other outside chores.
Some quick fixes to eliminate standing water include placing sand in bowls that collect water underneath potted plants, or drilling holes in any container you can't empty regularly. Stock ponds with fish to eat mosquito larvae and clean and chlorinate pools.