PEOPLE living in a Southampton street say their summers have been ruined by an infestation of mosquitoes.

The mozzies have been plaguing areas of Millbrook since the heatwave at the end of June.

Residents claim they have had to keep their windows closed, buy fly screens, and use bug spray to keep the pesky insects at bay.

One of the worst affected areas is Elmes Drive, near Tanners Brook, where neighbours have described the situation as a “nightmare”.

But Southampton City Council says the source of the problem could be standing water from nearby allotments and has issued advice on how to deal with the outbreak.

Ann Charrett, of Elmes Drive, said her sons Matthew, 12, and Michael, 11, have suffered bites to their arms.

She said: “We have had this problem all summer.

“It has been a nightmare. Every night we are looking up at the ceiling for mosquitoes rather than at the television.

“Matthew gets bitten quite badly and comes up in bumps, but the whole family has been bitten by them.

“We have never known it to be as bad as this.”

Julie Manning, 44, of Elmes Drive, added: “We have not been able to sit in the garden all summer. Once the evenings draw in we have to go inside.

“We bought fly screens for the doors and windows and are still finding them in the house. No amount of candles, plug-ins and spraying is making any difference.

“We have no choice but to sit inside with the windows and doors all closed.”

Michelle Carstairs, of South Mill Road, said her daughters Macey, seven, and Ella, nine, have both been affected by mosquito bites.

Young Macey was admitted to hospital two years ago after a reaction to the bites.

She is currently on steroids and antibiotics to cope with the itchy marks.

She said: “fine now because she has been on them a few days.

“Two years ago she was in hospital for a week and had to have surgery because of her bites. She has been badly bitten three times.

“She gets cellulitis from it. It's horrible for her and worrying for us because the first time she was admitted to hospital.”

Joanne Cox, 42, of Elmes Drive, said: “We've been here 17 years and never noticed them until a few years ago, but this year has been terrible.

"We have to have fans on indoors all the time as we can't open the windows and our daily ritual now involves closing the doors and windows at 5pm, spraying everywhere and then again before bed, including ourselves with insect repellent.”

The Environment Agency said it was the responsibility of the local authority to deal with pest infestations.

A spokesman for the city council said a wet winter followed by a “very hot” period early in the summer could have lead to the increase.

They said: “The egg larva and pupa stages are all dependent on water and not just any water. Mosquitoes have to be selective on breeding sites and depend on still water which is not inhabited by any preditors.

“This rules out any flowing water, ponds with fish, waterfowl, and aquatic life.

“Findings point towards man made uncovered receptacles which fill with rain water as the primary breeding grounds.”

“The best way to treat mosquitoes is to remove such receptacles which could be used as breeding sites, such as flower pots, stored car tyres, or anything that can hold water, and speak with your neighbours advising them to do the same.”

Infestation 'puzzling'

THE head of a national insect research centre said the source of the mosquito infestation was “puzzling”.

Ian Burgress, director of the Medical Entomology Centre in Cambridge, said there was no clear signs as the source of the mosquitoes.

He said: “The ones that mostly get indoors in the summer is the house mosquito but in Britain house mosquitoes don't bite humans, they bite birds.

“There is a particular subspecies that does bite but generally speaking it breeds in underground chasms.

“This is an interesting problem because on the face of it I cannot see where the problem is arising.

“If they can catch some of them biting, we can have a look.

“The ones that bite humans are the culisea annulata but generally speaking you find that they are more common in shady places associated with reasonable vegetation.”