BY JAMIE LOBER
Mosquitos are a nuisance, and one that you want to get under control, so it doesn’t affect your family’s health and safety, especially during these warmest months of the year. While many are just pests, others can spread viruses that cause disease, so you want to be particularly vigilant this summer and fall. One virus commonly spread by mosquitos that you may have heard about is the West Nile virus. The tricky part is that sometimes there are no symptoms, or they are just mild, like a fever or headache, when you think it could be something else. There is also the Zika virus that can be diagnosed through a blood or urine test, though there is no specific medicine for treatment. That is why it is so important to try to avoid a confrontation with a mosquito in the first place.
The American Mosquito Control Association breaks down prevention into the three D’s, which stand for “drain, dress and defend.” The drain part is probably self-explanatory, while the dress may not always cross your mind. Light-colored, loose-fitting clothing is better for deterring mosquitos, as most prefer dark colors and like to bite through tight clothes. The best defense is a repellent that has been registered by the Environmental Protection Agency. You always want to read the label before applying the product; only put it on exposed skin and not on clothing, and keep it away from your eyes, nose, and mouth. The American Academy of Pediatrics favors DEET-based repellents for kids as young as two-months old and encourages concentrations of 10 percent or less. Be sure to wash off the repellent once you come in from working or playing outside. If you are applying sunscreen, always do so first and then add the repellent second. If you ever experience a reaction to the repellent, wash it off immediately and call your doctor.
Now that you have taken care of yourself, take a look at what you can do around your property to improve the situation. The American Mosquito Control Association suggested some measures you can take in order to get mosquitos off your property, including:
- Not allowing water to accumulate in the saucers of flowerpots or pet dishes for more than two days.
- Disposing of buckets, unused plastic swimming pools or cans that hold water.
- Checking air conditioners and faucets and repairing any leaks.
- Getting rid of puddles that remain for a few days.
- Removing standing water.
- Changing water in birdbaths at least once a week.
- Checking for trapped water in plastic used to cover boats or pools.
- Irrigating the lawn and garden.
Mosquito control can be complicated. Just because you have removed your standing water so the mosquitos can’t lay eggs anymore, doesn’t mean that your neighbors have done the same. Adult mosquitos like plant nectar, so you may find them in bushes or shrubs. Mosquitos actually do not usually take shelter in the grass, but keeping the grass short can be beneficial. Getting rid of weeds and foliage can help, as well. You may also choose to contact an exterminator to find just the right insecticides to make a difference.
If you are traveling, do your research and find out if mosquitos are prevalent in the area. Make sure your hotel has air conditioning, or if you happen to be outside, sleep under a mosquito bed net, which you can purchase at an outdoor store or on the Internet. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that the most effective bed nets are WHOPES-approved, which means they are compact, white, rectangular, have 156 holes per square inch and are long enough to tuck under the mattress. Permethrin-treated bed nets offer the most protection.
Sometimes just having a few tools can help to get rid of these privacy-invaders. Indoor insect sprays work instantly to kill mosquitos. They like to stay in dark and humid places, so good spots to check would be under your sink or furniture, or in the laundry room. When you take proper precautions, you will find that mosquitos can become more manageable.