Fight Back Against Mosquitoes

National Mosquito Control Awareness Week gives us all a chance to stay on top of that pesky summer problem with tips to lower populations of the biting insects.

A few simple tips will lessen the likelihood of meeting a pesky mosquito this summer.

A few simple tips will lessen the likelihood of meeting a pesky mosquito this summer.

iStockphoto.com/Pawel Gaul

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Nobody likes mosquitoes. They are bloodsucking, disease-spreading pests. Mosquitoes are so unpopular that they have an official week devoted to their extermination.

The week of June 20-26 has been declared National Mosquito Control Awareness Week by the American Mosquito Control Association. As summertime temperatures heat up, millions of mosquitoes begin buzzing around in backyards and neighborhoods – biting, spreading disease and generally making a nuisance of themselves.

According to mosquito expert Joe Conlon, a technical advisor for the American Mosquito Control Association, it is impossible to live in a completely mosquito-free environment. Wherever there’s moisture there will be some mosquitoes. But you can reduce your chances of getting bitten by mosquito pests by helping to reduce their breeding habitat.

Immediately after biting a person or an animal to extract a tiny amount of blood, a female mosquito lays her eggs in standing water – usually only yards from where the bite occurred. Upon hatching, the mosquito larvae begin their life cycle in the water. Eliminating pools of standing water near your home is the best way to prevent future generations of blood-sucking little mosquitoes.

Empty the water from birdbaths and swimming pools once a week. Get rid of old tires, unused buckets and trash cans that can hold rainwater. Clean clogged roof gutters to prevent water from collecting.

It doesn’t take much water for a new generation of mosquitoes to breed, so dump out the water in pot saucers at least once a week. And don’t overwater your flower beds or other areas in your yard to the point that standing water begins to collect.

Insect Shield offers these additional tips:

● Keep windows and door screens in good condition.

● Replace porch lights with yellow light bulbs. They attract fewer insects.

● Replace water in plant/flower vases weekly.

● Replenish pet-watering dishes daily and rinse birdbaths weekly.

● Fill tree holes and depressions left by fallen trees with dirt or sand.

● Stock ornamental ponds with mosquito fish or use larvicide “doughnuts.”

● Do not place grass clippings or blow leaves into drainage ditches or storm drains. This will block the flow of water and allow mosquito breeding near the home.

To kill mosquito larvae before they can become flying, biting, disease-spreading adults, use a natural biological control called B.t.i. (Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis) contained in products such as Mosquito Dunks and Mosquito Bits. Place a Mosquito Dunk wherever there is standing water – in birdbaths, ponds, fountains, and even in dry areas that occasionally flood. The B.t.i. will kill mosquito larvae for up to 30 days without harming other living things. A six-pack of Mosquito Dunks sells for about $10 at garden centers, hardware stores and online.

Insect Shield clothing and gear repels a variety of insects including mosquitoes and ticks that can carry diseases such as Lyme disease, malaria, West Nile virus, and Dengue fever. The protection is invisible, odorless and long-lasting. (through 70 washings).

Unlike traditional topical repellents Insect Shield products cannot be misused or over-applied. Insect Shield technology is EPA-registered, can be worn or used by infants, children of all ages, and women who are pregnant or nursing. Check out products and clothing carrying the Insect Shield repellant at the website.

Like it or not, mosquitoes will forever be a part of the summer experience. But it is possible to dramatically reduce backyard populations of the pests and make your outdoor activities more enjoyable.