How to Control Mosquitos to Protect Your Family From West Nile Viru

How to Control Mosquitos to Protect Your Family From West Nile Viru

West Nile Virus - How to Control Mosquitoes

West Nile virus (WNV) is a potentially serious illness. Experts believe West Nile Virus is established as a seasonal epidemic in North America that flares up in the summer and continues into the fall. This fact sheet contains important information that can help you recognize and prevent West Nile virus. The rate of fatality is 3-15% among those who develop the disease. WNV encephalitis primarily affects persons over 50 years of age. Those with a compromised immune system may also be more susceptible to acquiring encephalitis. Currently no approved human vaccine is available for WNV.

There are two means to keep safe: get rid of mosquitoes and prevent them from biting you. The get rid of mosquitoes (or at least control them, scroll down this page. And for information about which repellent to use; what is most effective and safe mosquito repellent, is found on this other page.


How to Control Mosquitoes

There are about 200 different species of mosquitoes (often called "skeeters", "mossies", "mosskeeters" or misspelled "mosquitos", ) in the United States, all of which live in specific habitats, exhibit unique behaviors and bite different types of animals. Despite these differences, all mosquitoes share some common traits, such as a four-stage life cycle. After the female mosquito obtains a blood meal (male mosquitoes do not bite), she lays her eggs directly on the surface of stagnant water, in a depression, or on the edge of a container where rainwater may collect and flood the eggs. The eggs hatch and a mosquito larva or "wriggler" emerges. The larva lives in the water, feeds and develops into the third stage of the life cycle called a pupa or "tumbler". The pupa also lives in the water, but no longer feeds. Finally, the mosquito emerges from the pupal case and the water as a fully developed adult, ready to bite.

Mosquito Life Cycle (about ten times actual size)

Mosquito life cycle showing the egg, larva, pupa and adult stages.

The type of standing water in which the mosquito chooses to lay her eggs depends upon the species. The presence of beneficial predators such as fish and dragonfly nymphs in permanent ponds, lakes and streams usually keep these bodies of water relatively free of mosquito larvae. However, portions of marshes, swamps, clogged ditches and temporary pools and puddles are all prolific mosquito breeding sites. Other sites in which some species lay their eggs include tree holes and containers such as old tires, buckets, toys, potted plant trays and saucers and plastic covers or tarpaulins. Some of the most annoying and potentially dangerous mosquito species, such as the Asian tiger mosquito, come from these sites.

What You Can Do to Help Fight Mosquitoes

  • Empty standing water in old tires, cemetery urns, buckets, plastic covers, toys, or any other container where "wrigglers" and "tumblers" live.
  • Empty and change the water in bird baths, fountains, wading pools, rain barrels, and potted plant trays at least once a week if not more often.
  • Drain or fill temporary pools with dirt.
  • Keep swimming pools treated and circulating and rain gutters unclogged.
  • Use mosquito repellents when necessary and follow label directions and precautions closely.
  • Use head nets, long sleeves and long pants if you venture into areas with high mosquito populations, such as salt marshes.
  • If there is a mosquito-borne disease warning in effect, stay inside during the evening when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Make sure window and door screens are "bug tight."
  • Replace your outdoor lights with yellow "bug" lights.
  • Contact your local mosquito control district or health department. Neighborhoods are occasionally sprayed to prevent disease and nuisance caused by large mosquito numbers. If you have any questions about mosquitoes and their control, call your local authorities.
  • Clean eaves troughs of debris regularly so water does not accumulate.
  • Ensure that openings in rain barrels are covered with mosquito screening or tightly sealed around the downspout.
  • Aerate ornamental ponds and stock with fish that eat mosquito larvae.
  • Old tires are one of the most common mosquito breeding sites. Ensure that your yard is free of debris, such as old tires, that can accumulate rainwater.

     

Mosquito Control and Safe Pesticide Use

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