While swatting away mosquitoes is an inconvenience, these flying nuisances can pose serious health threats to both humans and animals. Mosquitoes – both the northern and southern house breeds – can spread West Nile virus, dengue fever, eastern equine encephalitis and dog heartworm, and that’s just for starters.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2013 48 states reported West Nile virus infections in people, birds, or mosquitoes. In those states there were a total of 2,469 cases of West Nile virus disease in people, including 119 deaths.
Despite the glorious weather and the lack of screened in porches that dot yards in the Midwest, Southwest and East Coast, the West still has issues with mosquitoes. In California there were 379 reported cases – the second highest number of reported cases in the country – and unfortunately 15 deaths linked to West Nile virus. County vector control departments do a great job controlling mosquito populations, but short of eradication there are things we as consumers can do to thwart these little pesky pests.
Recently, my good friend Missy Henriksen of the National Pest Management Association was a guest on NBC’s Today Show talking about the threat mosquitoes pose and how to protect your family. Both Missy and I recommend the following personal protection steps you can take to keep mosquitoes at bay:
- Use insect repellent containing DEET or eucalyptus oil.
- Use citronella candles on the patio.
- Since mosquitoes are not good flyers, install a ceiling or box fan to literally blow mosquitoes away from your deck or patio.
- Wear long sleeve shirts and pants, including specially treated mosquito repellant clothing.
But more importantly, how can you prevent mosquitoes from becoming a nuisance in the first place?
The key is to eliminate any standing water (over a tablespoon is too much) on your property because water is prime real estate for mosquitoes. Standing water can gather due to over irrigation, broken sprinkler heads, clogged gutters, ornamental ponds, swimming pools, bird baths, trash cans and flower pots. Such casual puddles are important breeding places for these annoying and sometimes very serious disease vectors.
Adult mosquitoes usually take blood from birds but to our misfortune are also happy feeding from unsuspecting humans. It is the female mosquito you really have to watch out for as she is active from dusk to dawn in search of a tasty blood meal. Mosquitoes even try and enter homes and businesses in the fall as temperatures drop, looking for a place to settle in over the winter months. Given the opportunity, most mosquito targets (that would be humans in general) can’t tell the difference between a male and female mosquito, so it’s best to stay clear of them all.
As I mentioned, if there is standing water present on your property for any length of time, mosquitoes are likely to try and move in and develop a new mosquito nursery.
To prevent mosquitoes from invading your turf, follow Mr. Little’s Top 10 Mosquito Prevention Tips:
- Dispose of unwanted or unused artificial containers and properly dispose of old tires.
- If possible, drill drainage holes, cover, or invert any container or object that holds standing water that must remain outdoors. Be sure to check for containers or trash in places that may be hard to see, such as under bushes or buildings.
- Clean clogged rain gutters and storm drains. Keep outdoor drains flowing freely and clear of leaves, vegetation, and other debris.
- Aerate ornamental ponds to avoid letting water stagnate.
- Change water in birdbaths, fountains, and animal troughs at least once per week.
- Ensure rain and/or irrigation water does not stand in plant containers, trash cans, boats, covers, or other containers on commercial or residential properties.
- Regularly chlorinate swimming pools and keep pumps and filters operating.
- Unused or unwanted pools should be kept empty and dry.
- Minimize sites mosquitoes can use for refuge (harborage) by thinning branches, trimming and pruning ornamental shrubs and bushes, and keeping grass mowed short.
- Control plant growth in ponds, ditches, and shallow wetlands.
Have a question about mosquitoes? If so, send me an e-mail at AskMrLittle@WesternExterminator.com and I’ll get back to you right away with the information you are looking for.
Until next time, thanks for making Western Exterminator Company “The Final Word in Pest Control®”
Have a pest free day.