Sunday, May 17, 2009

Excess Rain Means Pesky Mosquitoes!

Due to the all of the April and May rainfall in Texas, we are now experiencing a higher population of another pest insect, the mosquito. Mosquitoes are a diverse group of flies that are found worldwide, with about 85 species living in Texas.
Mosquitoes develop through complete metamorphosis with an egg, larva, pupa and adult stage. Mosquito eggs may be laid individually or in clusters on the surface of water or in dry locations that will periodically flood. The eggs hatch into larvae that eat bacteria, fungi and other organic debris in the water. The larvae will develop into pupae, which do not feed. The adult stage will emerge from the water to take flight.
Adult male and female mosquitoes feed on nectar, honeydew and fruit juices. The female mosquito will consume blood in order to develop her eggs. This causes the female mosquitoes to be the most DANGEROUS ANIMAL in the world, since they are capable of transmitting such diseases as Malaria, West Nile Virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, and Yellow Fever worldwide.
Some Control Options Outdoors:
The number one way to reduce mosquito populations in your yard is source reduction! Mosquitoes need as little as a bottle cap full of water to complete their lifecycle, so all areas where water collects needs to be emptied or changed weekly. If standing water is eliminated in your backyard, then the overall mosquito population in your area will be reduced.
1) Areas containing water should be changed or emptied weekly, such as wading pools, buckets, bird baths, pet dishes, ponds, boat covers, irrigation systems, and French drains.
2) Holes or depressions in trees should be filled with sand or mortar.
3) Leaky pipes and faucets should be repaired.
4) For standing water that can not be drained, one suggestion is to use mosquito dunks containing Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti) to kill the mosquito larvae.
Mow tall grasses and reduce the amount of foliage to reduce the resting sites for adult mosquitoes. Insecticides can be applied to trees and shrubs, such as those containing permethrin, in order to kill adult mosquitoes.
Some Options To Prevent Mosquito Bites:
1) Avoid wearing dark colors, since mosquitoes use visual cues to locate hosts.
2) Avoid exercising or yard work in the heat of the day, since mosquitoes are attracted to carbon dioxide and perspiration.
3) Avoid wearing fruity or floral fragrances in perfumes, deodorants, hair products, or sunscreens, since these scents are more attractive to mosquitoes.
4) Wear long, loose-fitting clothing to avoid mosquito bites.
5) Chemicals can be applied to the skin to prevent bites. DEET, has been an effective repellent that can be applied to the skin to repel mosquitoes. There are also other mosquito repellents on the market such as picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, oil of eucalyptus, and soybean oil-based repellents that can be applied to the skin.

Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus (Skuse) (Diptera: Culicidae). Photo by Dr. Bart Drees, Professor and Extension Entomologist, Texas A&M Univeristy.

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