Thanks to a rather dry spring, mosquito activity in New Jersey has been mild so far this year.

County control programs are reporting lower-than-normal mosquito populations at the start of the summer.

But rainy conditions over this past weekend and the week ahead could pave the way for a significant spike in the number of mosquitoes in the very near future.

"We're paying really close attention to this weather," said Scott Crans, administrator for the Office of Mosquito Control Coordination within the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

Conditions are prime for a "very healthy explosion of mosquitoes" in the Garden State, Crans told New Jersey 101.5. In a typical year, spotty rain events cause random batches of eggs to hatch from marshes, puddles, flower pots, and other spots. But since significant rains have been few and far between, millions of mosquito eggs are still waiting to get soaked in order to awaken.

"When you get these super heavy rains, more areas flood ... you just get a ton more mosquitoes all at the same time," Crans said. "And that requires county programs to be working everywhere, and that's hard to do."

Adult mosquitoes typically make their presence known four to seven days following a heavy rain event, Crans said. Mosquito control programs prefer to treat for mosquitoes when they're still in their larval stage, but they also can spray when the bloodsuckers take wing.

So far this year, testing of mosquitoes has registered "very low levels" of viruses such as West Nile, Crans said.

Mosquitoes can use an environment as small as a bottle cap to lay their eggs. Officials advise residents to conduct a weekly audit of their yards — standing water in tarps and buckets should be cleared out.

"You can have a significant impact on the mosquitoes that are going to come bugging you in your own backyard," Crans said.

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