CLAY COUNTY – It’s that time of year again when we realize just how much mosquitoes can impact our lives. Not only can they reduce our quality of life by ruining a relaxing evening on the porch, …
CLAY COUNTY – It’s that time of year again when we realize just how much mosquitoes can impact our lives. Not only can they reduce our quality of life by ruining a relaxing evening on the porch, but they
can also carry diseases. We are lucky that the lack of rain in recent months has helped keep the mosquito populations lower than normal. However, as we start to experience more afternoon showers, we should be prepared for an increase in mosquitoes. Below you will find some important information on how to fight back against mosquitoes this season by protecting yourself and reducing mosquito breeding sites around your home.
The most effective ways to protect yourself is to wear protective clothing when exposed to mosquitoes (e.g., long sleeves and pants) and use effective repellents. Repellents make humans unattractive to a mosquito so that it will avoid areas of the body that have been treated with the product. Repellents do not kill mosquitoes.
Repellents are either synthetic chemicals, such as DEET, or plant derived chemicals such as citronella. Various formulations of these repellents are available that differ in the amount of active ingredient, which is the substance that repels the mosquito. These products are also available as sprays, wipe-ons, sticks, foams and lotions.
It is very important to read the label before using any mosquito repellent and remember that there are different recommendations for frequency of application for different repellents.
The best repellents will provide protection from bites for a long period of time – at least more than an hour – with a single application.
Reducing mosquito breeding sites
Female mosquitoes bite humans because they need a blood meal (i.e., protein) for reproduction. Once the female has fed on a human for her blood meal, she will search out a
favorable site to lay her eggs. Anything that holds stagnant water is her target for a breeding site.
Eliminating breeding sites is simple to do and often considered the most effective control. This is because controlling mosquitoes in their larval form (i.e., in water) is much easier than trying to control the adults.
To eliminate breeding sites, remove any object that may hold unnecessary water. For example, tin cans, toys, flowerpot saucers, stagnant pools, and the notorious old tire in the backyard. Birdbaths should be changed weekly. Garden ponds should be stocked with top-feeding minnows. Grills, rain barrels, or anywhere water is stored should be sealed tightly while gutters, which can be unseen areas of mosquito development, should be kept clean at least in the spring and fall.
If eliminating standing water is not practical, I would recommend buying “mosquito dunks” that are available at major retailers. These dunks cost about $1.00 each and when introduced to standing water they release a bacterial toxin (Bti) into the water that kills mosquito larvae. These bacteria are not toxic to fish, birds or any other creatures.
Homeowners who actively participate in reducing mosquitoes around the home can help decrease pesticide use, reduce the risk of contracting mosquito-borne diseases, and help ease the financial burden to local governments who are responsible for area-wide control.
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