Mosquito’s to some, “Culicidea” to others, I have been itching to share a little information about the pest among us….no matter what we call it. Mosquito’s are threatening to wreak havoc on our summer fun and festivities. It makes some paranoid about being outside at night and others paranoid about going outside at anytime. It is a part of an ongoing conversation that is now of interest to each of us as it is known for spreading diseases such as Encephalitis, Malaria, Yellow Fever, West Nile Virus or the latest Zika virus. Scientifically, this pest is called a “Culicidae”, new terminology is referring to its genus as “Culex” or more commonly known as the Mosquito.
Mosquito translated means little fly in Spanish. This little fly lately has been carrying a huge blow to young and old alike. Although this year, mosquito’s are posing a new threat called the Zika virus is something we need to be aware of and discuss.
Let me share a few quick facts about mosquito’s:
- According to the American Mosquito Control Association, the mosquito has four life cycles: Egg, Larva, Pupa and adult. Average lifespan of the female is 42 – 56 days to adulthood. The male averages 10 days to adulthood
- The female has tubular mouth parts that pierce the skin, consume blood and sometimes leaves devastating infections to its victims.
- According to National institutes of Health, Mosquito’s account for 725,000 deaths annually on a global scale.
- To some the itch is unbearable…to me it is merely a nuisance no matter how many cold compresses, swatting, tapping or anti-itch creams one uses…just simply a nuisance!!!
A little eerie isn’t it??? Such a small creature can wreak havoc in our communities as well as our personal space. There is research that can alter the DNA of these pests…but at what cost??? What would the long-term residual effects be as well as what could be potentially introduced that could be more dangerous or lethal. This remains to be seen, however, at this time, we have options, as we attempt to protect ourselves and our loved ones.
How do we protect ourselves from Mosquito’s??
According to the American Mosquito Control Association, use an insect repellant that contains DEET, Picaridin, oil of eucalyptus or IR3535. These products have been tested, approved and supposedly contain minimal risk to the general population. Apply repellant to exposed skin. You do not have to take a bath in it, but apply so that you are sure it is an effective amount. Do not use repellents on broken skin or open wounds. Feel free to reapply when necessary and be sure to wash the residual repellents off upon returning indoors. Read the label whenever you are applying a replant to a child’s skin. Avoid the eyes, hands and mouth area, as well as if using a spray – use it in a well ventilated space.
Consider wearing loose-fitting, light-colored clothing as well as long sleeves and long pants. With the lighter weight fabrics, fashionable comfort has become a key element, as well as affordable price points. Also, research has shown that mosquito’s can successfully use it’s moving mouthparts to go through tight-fitting or dark clothing. Choose wisely when dressing for the warmer weather and for spending time outdoors.
How do we effectively prevent mosquito’s from creating problems in our personal space?
GET RID OF SITTING WATER – NO MATTER HOW SMALL – DUMP IT OUT!!!
This is the most effective way to prevent mosquito’s from becoming a pest breeding ground in our own backyards. We have all heard this before, but it is more important than ever. It is the perfect time to have the gutters cleaned for the season, repair that leaking faucet, adding drainage holes to recycling containers and changing the water in your our bird baths regularly.
Other Feel Good Measures
Encourage natural predators to play nicely in your garden and eat well. Natural predators of the mosquito include bats, birds, frogs, damsel flies, dragon flies as well as larvae eating fish. If you have a Pond, there are products on the market that discourage mosquitos from finding your pond an attractive place to pro-create. Remove any foliage that is overhanging into the water. Consider planting a mosquito garden and include plants like scented geraniums (not just Citronella), catnip, bee balm, pitcher plants and even marigolds.
The internet offers many recipes for creating your own naturally made repellents that have ingredients like cinnamon, lemon, castor oil, mint leaves, vinegar and even vodka.
A terrific way to allow standing water to drain back into the earth in a timely manner is to create a rain garden. A depression in the ground that has the right mix of soil and plants as well as drainage that allows the water that would normally stand to drain slowly back into the earth. Pinpointing areas where sitting water can possible effect Seniors out for exercise, children mindlessly playing or even people at bus stops are perfect for rain gardens. Rain gardens or storm water management projects have been known to add beauty and function to problem areas. In the District of Columbia/Maryland/Virginia area. The Chesapeake Bay Trust offers several options for grants to assist with these types of projects. In many areas there are entities that are concerned about water issues and how it affects the environment. The Chesapeake Bay is very important to the residents in the District of Columbia/Maryland/Virginia and we appreciate all that it does to educate and inform us about the health of the Chesapeake Bay and support programming in communities which continue to support these efforts.
Most importantly – awareness and education is the key. Listen to reliable resources and be aware of any sudden rashes or interactions with any of the above mentioned measures. If you see standing water in your community or in a neighbor’s yard – SAY SOMETHING. You can report standing water to your Public Works Department or your local Municipal Center. If we do not speak up on potential threats to our happiness, safety and community well-being, we are inadvertently merely part of the problem. Avoid and report any standing water….if you could only imagine how many mosquito larvae can survive in a soda cap of water…….
Be a good neighbor and let’s keep awareness at the forefront of our summer enjoyment!!!
Click here to find out more about the American Mosquito Control Association
Click here to find out more about Chesapeake Bay Trust
Click here to find out more about the Zika virusby