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Wheeler: Mosquito control is essential

POSTED: August 31, 2012 1:30 a.m.

This has been an interesting year. We had a winter that was pretty much a cold spring and a summer that has been as hot as most could remember.

To top it all off, we have a nationwide drought and the spread of West Nile virus causing many to be concerned for their health. Unlike the weather, the only relatively good thing about West Nile virus is the fact that we can control its spread and how it affects others.

As you probably know by now, West Nile virus is carried and spread by mosquitoes. So when you begin to think about controlling the spread of the disease, you should think about what needs to happen to control mosquitoes and protect yourself from their bites.

Mosquitoes need still water to lay their eggs for their young to develop. In times of drought, mosquitoes tend to be worse than in summers that see plentiful rainfall.

When it is dry, areas that have water tend to hold large numbers of mosquitoes because the small pools of water are not disturbed with rain. If they are constantly being flushed with fresh water, then the water does not stagnate and become an ideal breeding site.

Control of mosquito populations around the house becomes an exercise of scouting the yard for standing water.

If you have water out for pets, be sure to change it out every couple of days so it does not become stagnant. If you have areas that will not drain, use one of the many "mosquito dunks" that are on the market. These are larvicides that prevent mosquito development. These products are ideal for water gardens or water features.

The other option that always reminds me of camping is to use a repellent. Products that contain DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus are known to be good repellents that give long-lasting activity. Also, wear loose, light colored clothing when you are going to be outside.

Chemical control by spraying the yard can be effective, but is usually not practical. Unless you know you are targeting an area that has mosquito activity, I would not bother with it. The other methods are a better way to control them longer.

Whether you are using a repellent or an insecticide in the yard, always read and follow the directions before use. The label is there to keep you, your children and pets safe.

I know that following all of these recommendations will not get rid of all the mosquitoes from your house, but they will greatly reduce the number that could possibly make you their next meal.

If you have questions about how to tackle mosquitoes on your property, just give me a call at the office.

Michael Wheeler is county extension coordinator for the UGA Cooperative Extension in Hall County. You can contact him at 770-535-8293, www.hallcounty.org/extension. His column appears weekly and on gainesvilletimes.com/life.


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