It’s mosquito season again and time for a few reminders

I’m sure many of you have seen dozens of articles about mosquitoes, especially during this time of year. However, since mosquitoes can carry pathogens that cause a variety of serious diseases, I think the tips on ways to prevent mosquitoes in your yard bear repeating.

In most of the South, we have three main genera of mosquitoes: Aedes species (breed in flood waters), Anopheles species (breed in permanent bodies of fresh water) and Culex species (breed in quiet, standing water). Most of the advice that you’ve read about reducing standing water in your yard obviously will help reduce the populations of the Culex species, some of which bite during the day and can bite repeatedly (such as the Asian tiger mosquito, or Aedes albopictus).

Mosquitoes transmit a number of different diseases, including West Nile virus, encephalitis, malaria (spread by the Anopheles species), dengue fever and yellow fever. The main two diseases that have been reported in the Southern region are encephalitis and West Nile virus. Several different species can transmit each of them.

This post will be a short refresher on some of the tips you’ve probably seen before about how to reduce mosquitoes in your yard. If you’re interested in more scientific information about mosquitoes, check out the “HowStuffWorks” website.

Many cities have mosquito control programs now for residential area. However, before you hire one to spray your yard, talk to your neighbors. Control is more effective if it is done for an entire neighborhood, but some residents are wary of the chemicals used in the spray. However, because mosquitoes are flying insects, you will not have much relief if you have only your yard sprayed.

Some of the best ways to control mosquito populations are many of the tips you’ve probably seen before:

  • Drain water from plant pots, bird baths, fountains, tires and outdoor toys.
  • Keep gutters free of debris and store boats so they do not collect rainwater.
  • Fill holes that can fill with water and repair outdoor leaks from pipes, sprinklers, rain barrels and faucets.
  • Empty pet water bowls regularly and check livestock watering troughs and tanks.
  • Use a mosquito larvacide in ponds. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water, so use a larvacide in any water that you do not wish to empty.
  • When outdoors, wear light colored clothing with loose fitting long sleeves, long pants and socks. Or wear insect repellent.
  • If possible, avoid sitting outdoors during evening and early morning hours when the sun is not shining.

If you do get bitten, clean the bite area with soap and water and apply a topical corticosteroid to reduce the itching and rash. Oral antihistamines can sometimes reduce the itching and rash as well. Cold compresses can help, but be sure not to press ice against the skin.

Each state has an organization that disseminates information about mosquito species in that state. Below are some that may be helpful:

Alabama: http://www.aces.edu/pubs/docs/A/ANR-1116/ANR-1116-low.pdf or http://www.aces.edu/counties/Marion/pages/mosquito.tmpl or Protecting Yourself from Mosquito Borne Illness

Arkansas: http://www.uaex.edu/Other_Areas/publications/pdf/FSA-7059.pdf

Florida: http://mosquito.ifas.ufl.edu/Index.htm

Georgia: http://health.state.ga.us/epi/vbd/mosquito.asp

Kentucky: http://www.ca.uky.edu/entomology/entfacts/ef005.asp

Louisiana: http://www.lsuagcenter.com/en/environment/insects/Mosquitoes/

Mississippi: http://msucares.com/insects/mosquitoes/

North Carolina: http://ipm.ncsu.edu/AG369/notes/mosquitoes.html

Oklahoma: http://www.ok.gov/health/Disease,_Prevention,_Preparedness/Acute_Disease_Service/Disease_Information/Tickborne_and_Mosquitoborne_Diseases/

South Carolina: https://www.scdhec.gov/environment/envhealth/pests/mosquitoes.htm

Tennessee: http://www.cityofknoxville.org/engineering/stormwater/brochures/mosquitoes.pdf

Texas: https://insects.tamu.edu/fieldguide/bimg220.html and http://agrilife.org/aes/public-health-vector-and-mosquito-control/mosquitoes-of-texas/

Virginia: http://www.mosquito-va.org/linksinfo.htm

Also, check out our new “pin board” on insects and human health in Pinterest.

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