There's been quite a buzz lately about all the rain we've been having and how it's been sucking the joy out of the Jersey Shore.

Even if the sun comes out in the next couple of weeks though, the buzz is only going to grow louder as the female mosquito, New Jersey's most infamous pest, hatches in droves to seek out her joyless prey.

"She is looking to start a family with a little of your blood," said Gordon Patterson, a professor at the Florida Institute of Technology and author of the recently published book, "The Mosquito Crusades."

"They are ferocious," Patterson said.

The Garden State's 64 species of mosquitoes have been the bane of residents and tourists alike for centuries, and that's partly to do with the state's abundance of rivers, coastline and low-lying marshes, which flood in times of heavy rain and create the perfect breeding ground for the "state bird."

"Mosquitoes are affected by immediate weather," said Dr. Peter Bosak, superintendent of the Department of Mosquito Control for Cape May County. "These will hatch all in the next couple of weeks as a result of all this rain. We'll have plenty of insects down here that can suck your blood."

Cape May County, home to 45 species, is particularly hellish because of the Delaware Bay to the west, the Atlantic Ocean to the east and thousands of acres of salt-water marshes in between. The various species of dreaded salt-marsh mosquitoes will often pound against car windows, like props from a cheap horror movie, in an effort to get at your bare skin.

"We have letters from people in the 1960s and 1970s complaining how they had to run to avoid them," said Robert Kent, administrator of the state Department of Environmental Protection's Office of Mosquito Control Coordination.

Patterson, who will visit Rutgers University in New Brunswick Monday to give a lecture on his book, says New Jersey's mosquitoes prompted the nation's first organized effort to control them in 1912 under then-Gov. Woodrow Wilson.

"The story of mosquito control really begins in New Jersey," Patterson said.

Each of New Jersey's 21 counties has some form of mosquito-control program, which range from spraying insecticides to introducing fish that specialize in eating mosquito larvae. Kent said the state is looking at introducing a microscopic relative of crabs that also loves to eat the larvae.

"They're voracious," he said.

Offering relief to itchy tourists is one objective for the agencies, but mosquitoes can be more than just annoying to humans.

"I would argue that no one animal has killed more people than the mosquito in the entire world," Patterson said.

Mosquitoes, at their worst, can be carriers of dengue fever and malaria, which still kills millions worldwide every year. In New Jersey, mosquitoes can carry West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis, both of which can be fatal.

"It's hard to believe an animal so small can wreak so much havoc," said Kent. "Luckily, we can do a real good job at controlling them."

New Jersey residents who want to report problematic mosquito areas can call (888) 666-5968. *