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Start Mosquito Control Now

 I love to spend time outside working in the garden or in the landscape, but unfortunately the mosquitoes have recently started to enjoy spending time outside with me as well. I’ve heard lots of clients already complain about the intense populations of mosquitoes so this week, I’ve decided to share information provided recently by Roberto Cortinas, assistant professor, entomology and veterinary and biomedical sciences and Barb Ogg, Ph.D., extension educator from a recent news release.

There are two types of mosquitoes: floodwater and standing water mosquitoes. Floodwater mosquitoes such as the Aedes vexans, also commonly known as the inland floodwater mosquito lay eggs in dry areas in anticipation of flooding or rain. These eggs may survive a few years without water and hatch into mosquito larvae when water pools in the area. Mosquito larvae develop into pupae and then emerge from the water when they become adult mosquitoes. With the flooding this year, the number of Aedes vexans likely will increase. These mosquitoes transmit dog heartworm, which infects animals, primarily dogs, but it is easily preventable, according to Cortinas. Fortunately, the Aedes vexans mosquitoes are not the key player in the spread of the West Nile virus. The West Nile virus is the most important mosquito-transmitted disease in North America.

In 2010, 39 cases of West Nile were reported in Nebraska with two of those leading to death. The mosquito that spreads West Nile virus is Culex tarsalis, a standing water mosquito. This kind of mosquito prefers to lay eggs in existing, stagnant water sources, such as water in a paper cup or old tires. For the Culex tarsalis mosquito population to increase substantially and increase the risk of West Nile virus transmission the floodwater would have to remain pooled for a few weeks.

To protect oneself against the West Nile virus, control mosquito populations around an area and prevent mosquito bites. Barb Ogg, UNL Extension educator in Lancaster County, said long-term mosquito control starts with people eliminating mosquito breeding grounds instead of just spraying insecticide. If one is going to spray their yard, it’ll be effective for maybe a day or two. Anything in the yard that collects water, such as flower pots, cans and old tires, should be emptied. Dump out the bird bath at least twice a week and check gutters to make sure they are not clogged. For ponds or flooded areas, briquets or granules of the bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti) can be used to kill mosquito larvae, but it won’t harm birds, fish mammals and other organisms.

People can avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes by making sure window and door screens are in good condition, and by remaining indoors during dawn and dusk, which is when mosquitoes are most active. When venturing outside, it’s advisable to wear long-sleeved clothing and long pants. Light-colored clothing seems to attract fewer mosquitoes than dark-colored clothing. Mosquito repellents help prevent mosquito bites, too.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends three kinds of mosquito repellents:

  • DEET is the most common chemical used in insect repellents. DEET is effective, lasts up to eight hours depending on the concentration and is considered “the gold standard” for mosquito repellents. However, many people don’t like DEET because it has an oily feeling and odor. 
  • Picaridin is as effective as DEET but it isn’t as long-lasting. However, it is not greasy and doesn’t have an odor, so some people prefer Picaridin over DEET.
  • Oil of lemon eucalyptus (PMD) is extracted from the lemon eucalyptus plant. People like it because it’s a natural substance, but it lasts for a shorter period of time than DEET or Picaridin of the same concentration, so it needs to be re-applied more frequently.

For more tips on controlling mosquitoes around the home, visit UNL NebGuide Residential Mosquito Control.

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