Simple Tips to Help You Control Mosquitoes
June 20, 2016Zika may be public enemy number one when it comes to mosquito-borne viruses, but it’s not the only threat these insects pose. Other mosquito-borne viruses such as | West Nile virus, dengue fever, malaria and Chikungunya also worry public health officials.
Why are mosquitoes suddenly such a public health threat? At the top of the list is globalization; as more people and goods cross borders, mosquitoes and mosquito-borne illnesses are traveling with them. Some experts also blame ecosystem changes like deforestation, soil erosion and man-made ponds and lakes. Climate change may also contribute, as mosquitoes have greater geographic range and a longer season.
While local mosquito control programs may treat bodies of water for mosquito eggs, larvae or pupae and spray insecticides for adult mosquitoes, you can take steps to help. For homeowners, the American Mosquito Control Association recommends:
- Disposing of items that can collect water like buckets, plastic swimming pools and canvas tarps.
- Emptying water that accumulates in flower pot saucers, urns and pet dishes every two days.
- Changing water in birdbaths, fountains and wading pools every two days.
- Keeping your rain gutters free of debris.
- Repairing air conditioner leaks as quickly as possible.
- Keeping faucets working properly to prevent water from dripping and accumulating.
- Filling in drain puddles, ditches and swampy areas in your yard.
- Using mosquito controllers like space sprays and ULV foggers.
- Placing citronella candles and torches in your patio and backyard.
- Using tight screens on your windows, doors and porches.
- Mowing your lawn regularly.
- Growing mosquito repelling plants in your yard. Garden Design magazine recommends: citronella grass, catmint, basil, lavender and scented geraniums.
- Wearing long sleeve shirts and pants while outdoors; particularly, between dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active.
- Using insect repellent. Apply sparingly and only to exposed areas. Avoid applying on wounds. Be sure to wash off the repellent with soap and water as soon as you return indoors.
- Selecting insect repellant with an appropriate amount of DEET, the active ingredient in repellent. Typically, higher concentrations of DEET provide longer protection. For instance, a product with 10 percent DEET may be effective for 90 minutes; whereas, 30 percent DEET may protect you for almost six hours. Limit DEET concentrations to no more than 50 percent, as these products do not provide additional protection, just exposure to more active ingredients. Effective alternatives to DEET repellents include products that use IR3535 or picaridin, a relatively new active ingredient that some people prefer because it doesn't leave an oily residue like DEET or irritate eyes like IR3535.
- Trying natural repellents if you are pregnant, nursing or are allergic to DEET products. It’s also an option if you are going to be outdoors for a brief period of time, as they do not provide as long of protection as DEET repellents. According to Healthline, the oils of lemon eucalyptus, lavender, cinnamon, thyme, Greek catnip and soybean can help ward off mosquitoes.