Saturday, April 30, 2011

Female Mosquitoes Are Out for a Meal

The female mosquito consumes blood in order to develop her eggs, which causes her to be one of the biggest medical threats to humans, since she is capable of transmitting many viruses including West Nile virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, and Yellow Fever. Applying repellents onto our skin is very important as we begin to enjoy outdoor activities. There are many excuses for not using repellents such as it doesn't smell good, it's too expensive, but the bottom line is that repellents are needed to prevent illnesses from a feeding female mosquito.

Some Options to Prevent Mosquito Bites:
1) Repellents can be applied to the skin and clothes to prevent bites. There are many mosquito repellents on the market such as those containing DEET, picaridin, oil of eucalyptus, and soybean oil-based repellents.
2) Avoid wearing dark colors, since mosquitoes rely on visual cues to locate hosts.
3) Avoid exercising or yard work in the heat of the day, since mosquitoes are attracted to carbon dioxide and perspiration.
4) Avoid wearing fruity or floral fragrances in perfumes, hair products, or sunscreens, since these scents are more attractive to mosquitoes.
5) Wear long, loose-fitting clothing avoid mosquito bites.

Some Options For Controlling Mosquito Populations Outdoors:
1) The number one way to reduce mosquito populations is source reduction!!! Mosquitoes need as little as a bottle cap full of water, in order to complete their lifecycle. If standing water is eliminated, then the overall mosquito population in your area will be reduced.
A) Areas containing water should be changed once a week or emptied, such as wading pools, buckets, bird baths, pet dishes, ponds, boat covers, and irrigation systems.
B) Holes or depressions in trees should be filled with sand or mortar.
C) Leaky pipes should be repaired.
D) If standing water can not be drained, then mosquito dunks containing Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti) can be used to kill the mosquito larvae.
2) Mow tall grass and reduce the amount of foliage. This will reduce the number of resting sites for adult mosquitoes.
3) Insecticides can be applied to trees and shrubs, such as those containing pyrethrins, to kill adult mosquitoes when they rest.

Photo of an Asian Tiger Mosquito. Photo by Texas A&M University.

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