Mosquito Season Is Upon Us

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Along with the periods of heavy rain, heat and occasional drought of summer, we cannot ignore the mosquito. This insect has an impact on the lives and activities of everyone. Almost every summer function is planned with the thought of how to avoid the onslought of a hungry swarm of mosquitoes.

There are some things that can be done to minimize the effects of their presence in a limited way. Outdoor foggers are effective as long as the chemical lasts but once the chemical dissipates the insects return. Repellents are also widely used but have to be re-applied frequently. Citronella preparations such as candles offer some relief but only when there is no wind. Bug zappers do not really do much good in controlling mosquitoes. These machines seem to kill more beneficial insects than pesky ones.

What is the answer? The only permanent solution to the mosquito problem is to eliminate their breeding sites.

All mosquitoes have one thing in common – they need water to complete their life cycle. So the most productive thing we can do is eliminate standing water. Even during times of drought there is enough standing water to breed mosquitoes. Eggs may be laid in many unlikely places. Items such as old tires, buckets, unused plastic swimming pools, pet dishes, the base of a flower pot, underneath a window air conditioner, birdbaths or trees stumps are all perfect places for eggs to be laid. Decorative ponds that have become so popular are a great site for mosquitoes to breed unless there are fish present. It only takes a teaspoon of water and 24 to 48 hours for a new crop of mosquitoes to hatch out and start biting. Even if these sites are periodically dry, eggs can lie dormant until the water returns.

The key to success is to check around your house on a regular basis. Remove old tires or empty containers. Change the water in birdbaths and wading pools at least once a week and ask your neighbors to do the same. Successful mosquito control has to be a community project.

The increasing occurance of West Nile Virus gives us an even greater incentive to become more aware of the presence of mosquito breeding areas. Remind friends and family to search out these prospective breeding sites and then simply empty out the water. But, realistically, you can’t patrol the entire forest and although we can do things to decrease the mosquito population, remember to keep the mosquito repellant handy!