Mosquitoes are a pain no matter where you live. But in the area where I live, the mosquito problem could reach dangerous proportions… or so warns our local health department. Blame it on Mother Nature. We had a wetter than normal early-to-mid-May followed by record-breaking heat during the last 10 days of the month. It has not only resulted in lawns with grass four feet tall, but it has created prime breeding areas for mosquitoes, some of which could be carriers of the West Nile Virus.
West Nile Virus is a serious illness that has been known to kill animals and cause debilitating health problems for humans. Our neighborhood is on high alert as health officials warn that mosquito eggs are expected to hatch in less than two weeks. You may not live in the Midwest, but summer time is mosquito time just about everywhere. So what can you do to protect your family? Look around your home. There are a number of simple steps you can take inside and out to help protect yourself from mosquitoes:
Outside Your Home
You can dramatically reduce the number of mosquitoes around your yard, deck and children’s playground equipment by draining sources of standing water. By doing so, you reduce the number of places mosquitoes lay their eggs and breed.
· A few times a week, empty water from flowerpots, pet food and water dishes, birdbaths, swimming pool covers, buckets, barrels, and cans.
· If your child has a wading pool, be sure that you empty it out completely when he/she is done playing in it. Never leave it out overnight, regardless of whether your child intends to play in it the next day.
· Check for clogged rain gutters and clean them out.
· Remove discarded tires, and other items that could collect water.
· Be sure to check for containers or trash in places that may be hard to see, such as under bushes or under your home or deck.
Inside Your Home
· Do a thorough inspection of all windows and doors. Get down on your hands and knees and look for tears or gaps in screen doors. Do the same with your windows.
· Install or repair window and door screens so that mosquitoes cannot get indoors. Mosquitoes are tiny and very mobile so it is critical to have well fitting screens on both windows and doors.
· Lend a helping hand by offering to help neighbors whose screens might be in bad shape.
· Eliminate any standing water in your home. Check flowerpots and wide brimmed vases. Also, don’t leave dirty dishes filled with water in the sink.
Protect Yourself and Your Family
· Use Insect Repellent. Thoroughly saturate all exposed skin prior to going outdoors. Use an EPA-registered insect repellent such as those with DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus. You’d be surprised how quickly mosquitoes attack. Even a short time being outdoors can be long enough to get a mosquito bite.
· When weather permits, wear long-sleeves, long pants and socks when outdoors.
· Be Aware of Peak Mosquito Hours. The hours from dusk to dawn are peak biting times for many species of mosquitoes. Consider avoiding outdoor activities at those times.
· Place mosquito netting over infant carriers when you are outdoors with infants.
Being prepared is the only way you can win the mosquito war.