Pest control offers tips for controlling mosquito nuisances, population

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Corey Ryerson
  • 23rd Civil Engineer Squadron pest control technician
As the weather gets warmer, Moody personnel will start to see more and more mosquitoes. Not only do mosquitoes become a nuisance, they also pose a potential health risk. It's crucial that everyone does their part in protecting themselves as well as reducing mosquito breeding sites.

Female mosquitoes, unlike males, have a proboscis, a long thin needle-like built-in syringe located at the mouth. They use this to impale their victims in order to fill their abdomens with blood.

Proteins in the blood are necessary to produce fertile eggs. Since males cannot produce eggs they have no need for blood. Females require a new meal for every nest they lay and produce about 250 eggs per meal.

Although there are around 62 different mosquito species found in Georgia, the most common in South Georgia are the Asian tiger mosquito and the southern house mosquito. The Asian tiger mosquito primarily feeds during the day while the southern house mosquito feeds from dusk to dawn.

These species can possibly carry the West Nile virus but pose no major health risk. The virus can cause encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain. According to the Center Of Disease Control and Prevention, in 2009 there were four cases of West Nile in the state of Georgia last year with one fatality.

There are many ways people can protect themselves from mosquitoes as well as reduce mosquito breeding sites at home or in the work place.

During the day, use insect repellents on exposed skin. As an entomologist, I recommend an insect repellent with an EPA-approved active ingredient such as DEET, Picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Always follow the directions on the package for safest and most effective use.

Precautions for using insect repellents:
- Apply repellents only to exposed skin and clothing as directed on the product label. Do not use repellents under clothing.
- Never use repellents over cuts, wounds or irritated skin.
- Do not apply to eyes or mouth, and apply sparingly around ears. When using spray, do not spray it directly on face. Instead, spray on hands first and then apply to face.
- Do not allow children to handle the product. When using on children, adults should apply to their own hands first and then put it on the child. Don't apply to children's hands.
- Use just enough repellent to cover exposed skin and clothing. Heavy application and saturation are generally unnecessary for effectiveness. If biting insects do not respond to a thin film of repellent, then apply a bit more.
- After returning indoors, wash treated skin with soap and water or bathe. This is particularly important when repellents are used repeatedly in a day or on consecutive days. Also, wash treated clothing before wearing it again. This precaution may vary with different repellents so check the product label.)
- If anyone gets a rash or other bad reaction from an insect repellent, stop using the repellent, wash the repellent off with mild soap and water and call a local poison control center for further guidance. If going to a doctor because of the repellent, take the repellent to show the doctor.
- It's wise to avoid large breeding areas such as mud lands, swamps and deep wooded areas. When planning to go out after sunset, wear long-sleeved shirts and pants.
- Help reduce the number of mosquitoes in areas outdoors by draining sources of standing water. This will reduce the number of places mosquitoes can lay their eggs and breed.
- At least once or twice a week, empty water from flower pots, pet food and water dishes, birdbaths, swimming pool covers, buckets, barrels and cans.
- Check for clogged rain gutters and clean them out to eliminate standing water.
- 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 the house.

The 5 D's of mosquito prevention.
Dusk and dawn- Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are seeking blood. For many species, this is during the dusk and dawn hours.
Dress- Wear clothing that covers most of the skin.
DEET- When the potential exists for exposure to mosquitoes, repellents containing DEET are recommended. Picaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus are other repellent options.
Drainage- Check around the home to get rid of standing water, which is where mosquitoes will lay their eggs.
Following the 5 Ds of mosquito prevention should not only help in reducing the nuisance of mosquitoes but also their population.