Mosquito season is in full swing throughout the Commonwealth.
Mosquitoes are a perennial nuisance for which there is no easy answer. As summer continues, there will be lots of information (both good and bad) about what works and what doesn't.
The following measures can afford some relief.
Mosquitoes need quiet, non-flowing water for their development and periodic summer storms provide just such conditions. Eliminating large sources of standing water may require community-wide effort. Nonetheless, homeowners can take steps to prevent mosquitoes from breeding on their property.
n Dispose of old tires, buckets, aluminum cans, plastic sheeting, or other refuse that can hold water. Empty accumulated water from trashcans, boats, wheelbarrows, pet dishes, and flowerpot bottoms, and if possible turn them over when not in use.
n Clean debris from rain gutters and unclog obstructed down spouts. Clogged or damaged rain gutters are one of the most overlooked mosquito breeding sites around homes.
n Change water in birdbaths and wading pools at least weekly, and keep swimming pools clean, chlorinated, or covered when not in use. Ornamental pools can be aerated or stocked with mosquito-eating fish. Aeration and water movement helps because mosquitoes prefer quiet, non-flowing water for egg laying and development.
n Fill or drain ditches, swampy areas, and other soil depressions and remove, drain or fill tree holes and stumps with mortar to prevent water accumulation. Eliminate standing water and seepage around animal watering troughs, cisterns, and septic tanks. Be sure cistern screens are intact and access covers fit tightly.
n n Consider using a mosquito larvicide. They can be beneficial when it is impractical to eliminate a breeding site. Most larvicides sold to homeowners contain either the ingredient methoprene or the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti). Neither active ingredient is harmful to fish, waterfowl, pets, or humans when used according to label directions. Examples of these products are PreStrike, Mosquito Dunks and Quick Kill. Be sure to read and follow the directions on the label.
n Adult mosquitoes prefer to rest in moist, shady areas, such as dense vegetation, during the daytime. Consequently, homeowners should remove tall weeds and overgrown vegetation from their yards.
n Repellents will help prevent bites when spending time outdoors. Traditionally, the most effective mosquito repellents contained the active ingredient diethyltoluamide (DEET). Higher percentages of DEET in the ingredients provide longer protection. Low-percentage formulations (10% or less) are suitable for shorter periods outdoors (e.g., a few hours), and are recommended for use with young children. Two additional mosquito repellent ingredients are also available, specifically Picaridin and lemon eucalyptus oil (30 percent Repel Lemon Eucalyptus). Unlike DEET-based repellents, Picaridin is essentially odorless and lemon eucalyptus oil has a lemon scent. For many people, these DEET-alternative have a more pleasing feel on the skin. Always read and follow directions on the container.