The Eastern Equine Encephalitis threat in southern New England finally comes to an end Friday night.
After an especially difficult season with the mosquito-borne illness, a hard freeze is expected all the way to the South Coast of New England overnight Friday, which will result in either the death or hibernation of what’s left of the over 50 species of mosquitoes that call southern New England home.
The local maximum of EEE cases here in New England surprises many, but is the product of migrating birds from Florida that prefer swamp maples and reside in New England for the warm months, bringing EEE with them, which is then spread by mosquitoes here in New England.
The threat of EEE has been very high this season, with deaths confirmed in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island. In some cases, communities even changed their trick-or-treating hours to keep children safe.
The way to stop the spread of EEE is to stop the mosquitoes: while spraying by many communities certainly helps to mitigate the threat, the hard and fast way to end the threat is to freeze it out – literally.
A hard freeze is when temperatures drop to or below 28 degrees for a period of three hours or longer. While a hard freeze certainly has an agricultural importance, this year in New England our first frost came and passed and the growing season is over, so the biggest impact of our hard freeze on Friday night is to send the remaining mosquitoes into hibernation or their death and relax the minds of many New Englanders until next warm season.