The sun's beating down, the Beach Boys are blaring away on your CD player and 2-inch-thick steaks are sizzling on the grill.
Looks as if you have everything you need for the ultimate Utah barbecue - yet something's missing. The familiar slapping, buzzing and itching normally associated with summers past is gone.While not completely eliminated, mosquitoes - that threat to the happiness of summertime enthusiasts everywhere - are hatching in smaller numbers this year than at any time in recent history.
"This is the best year of mosquito control we've had in many years because of the weather," said Sam Dickson, manager of the Salt Lake City Mosquito Abatement District. "There's just not that much water to go around this year."
Water often means mosquitoes. But with hot weather and little rain, mosquitoes have been scarce in most areas.
Evan Lusty, director of the Magna Mosquito Abatement District, said this summer's mosquito crop is the second leanest he's seen in 19 years. Dickson said he's received only three complaints about mosquitoes since April, an unusually low number.
But the story is a little different in Utah County.
"It seems we're working harder this year than in past years," said Lewis Marrott, division director of Mosquito Abatement in Utah County. Even so, Marrott said, his office receives five to 10 complaints each day.
"However," he said, "the complaints this year are from people receiving one or two mosquito bites, whereas last year no one would think twice about two bites. The situation is still a lot better this year."
Marrott said this year's mosquitoes are more densely concentrated in isolated areas where water has remained stagnant for several days. Such isolation makes it harder to search out and find the areas to spray.
The conditions in Utah County this year have been conducive to one specific type of mosquito, said Marrott. A type of mosquito that normally would not be very prevalent here - the Adaedes Nigromaculis.
"It thrives in a drier-type condition, like this year," he said. "They're quite abundant now and are real severe biters. They'll bite you during the day."
While Salt Lake and Davis counties claim to have fewer mosquito problems, officials say the situation could change very quickly.
"If we had a lot of rain, that's all it would take to get more mosquitoes," said Keith Wagstaff, Salt Lake County Mosquito Abatement District director.
When water stagnates over a period of six days, mosquitoes will breed and more will develop. "They can infest a whole town in 10 days," said Lusty.
Marrott said it doesn't take much to provide fertile breeding grounds for the insects. Even old tires or paper cups around the yard with water inside will attract and entice a mosquito to lay eggs. Lawns at school yards and churches that are often overwatered provide ideal settings for mosquitoes.
"This time of year, everyone tries to water their lawns a lot. They want everyone to see they have nice green lawns," he said. "But they're producing mosquitoes by the ton."
Dickson said mosquitoes can lay eggs in water and within four days they hatch and produce adult mosquitos. "With the heat, they develop really quickly," he said.
Mosquitoes also lay eggs on the surface of water and often lay eggs on the edge of a site where water has been in the past. When the eggs become wet, they begin to develop, he said. "Our situation can change from day to day."
Are there any negative consequences to fewer mosquitoes? "Not really," said Wagstaff. "It's really difficult to see what mosquitoes are good for."
Dickson said they do pollinate some tiny mountain flowers, but added that people could certainly do without those flowers if it means eliminating the mosquitoes.