Summer months bring warm weather, picnics, vacations, and as much outdoor time as everyone can fit in. Unfortunately, warm weather also brings mosquito season. Instead of coating your body with poisonous sprays each time you step outside, there are other steps you can take to prevent mosquitoes from feasting on you.
Mosquitoes Can Be Dangerous
Mosquitoes are annoying, and bites can be painful and itchy. However, mosquitoes can also be dangerous to your health. Mosquito-borne diseases are caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites carried and transmitted by mosquito bites. Over 700 million people get mosquito-borne illnesses each year, and over 1 million result in death. Different diseases caused by mosquito bites include Zika, malaria, West Nile Virus, dengue, yellow fever, and different types of encephalitis. While some of these diseases are area specific, the majority have already been introduced into the United States.
What Attracts Mosquitoes
Mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn. They lay their eggs in water, such as bird baths, backyard swimming pools, fountains, ponds, and water gardens. Even 1 ounce of standing water can support an entire population of mosquito larvae. Vegetation and organic debris supply mosquito larvae with food and shade, and help them to hide from natural predators such as dragonflies and certain fish.
Once they hatch, mosquitoes follow the carbon dioxide trail that we exhale. They can see you as a target, especially if you wear dark clothes or denim against a light background. They look for targets where the blood is close to the surface of your skin. Movement can also draw them in. For these reasons, people who exercise outdoors are especially susceptible to mosquito bites.
How to Control the Mosquito Population
Unfortunately, there is no easy solution to getting rid of mosquitoes permanently. There are steps you can take to help minimize the problem, however.
- Empty and change the water in bird baths, fountains, wadding pools, etc on a regular basis
- Keep larger bodies of water such as pools circulating and treated
- Dump out any standing water in rain buckets, toys, rain gutters, etc
- Make sure door and window screens are "bug proof"
- Use fans to help circulate the air. Mosquitoes are weak fliers and circulating air can prevent them from landing.
If you live in a hot humid area or close to a body of water such as lakes or streams, consider enlisting the aid of professional mosquito control services. These companies use treatments that are safe for humans and pets and will help keep your family able to enjoy the warm summer months without becoming snack food for the local mosquito population.