How to reduce the number of breeding areas for mosquitoes:
• Eliminate artificial water-holding containers. If that is not possible, empty buckets, cans, bottles, used tires and other containers at least once a week.
• Clean birdbaths and water bowls for animals at least once a week.
• Fill or drain tree holes, stumps and puddles.
• Irrigate gardens and lawns carefully to prevent water standing for more than a few days.
• Check for water trapped in plastic covers on boats and swimming pools.
• Make sure rain gutters are clean and do not hold water.
• Stock garden ponds with mosquito-eating fish, such as minnows and goldfish.
• Aerate ponds and swimming pools.
• Eliminate aquatic vegetation around the edges of garden ponds, which will allow predatory fish and beneficial predatory insects to reach the mosquito larvae.
• When feasible, raise and lower the water level to allow predatory fish to reach the mosquito larvae.
How to reduce the chance of getting bitten by mosquitoes:
• Apply insect repellent containing DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide).
• Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants treated with repellents containing DEET or permethrin. Keep in mind mosquitoes can bite through thin clothing. Do not apply permethrin directly on your skin.
• Avoid being outdoors at dusk and dawn, which are the periods when mosquitoes are most active.
• When outdoors, place netting over infant carriers.
• Make sure you have good screens on your windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out.
• Mosquito traps based on release of CO2 does not reduce the mosquito population to the point there is a noticeable decline in mosquito numbers.
• Traps based on ultra sound technology are not effective for reducing the nuisance level.
Sure, all the recent rains have been good for crops and yards, but they may be another pesky side effect.
A by-product of the showers has been standing water in everything from old tires to ditches to entire fields. These puddles are mosquitoes magnates.
We itch while these irksome insects scratch out a living.
“Over the past few weeks, we have finally been blessed with a significant amount of participation,” said Barton County Extension Agent Alicia Boor. “But, with increased moisture, the number of mosquitoes will rise and begin to plague outdoor activities in greater numbers.”
“This is because mosquitoes lay their eggs in still water, and when there is standing water in an area, the mosquito population will rise with the increased number of nurseries,” Boor said. “Now that we have had a significant rain event, there is standing water in many places just waiting for a female to lay her eggs.”
The most effective method of controlling mosquito populations is targeting the larval stage and the sites where they can develop, she said. Once mosquitoes become flying adults, control is more difficult and expensive.
In other words, she said, folks should do what they can to eliminate standing water in their yards and gardens. Water can pool in buckets, birdbaths, stumps, plastic boat tarps and elsewhere.
“No matter how diligent you are, some mosquitoes will hatch and arrive unannounced at your next barbecue,” Boor said. To help protect yourself when outdoors, apply insect repellent containing DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide).
“The more DEET the repellent contains the longer, not better, it will protect you,” she said. However, the use of products containing more than 33 percent DEET is not recommended.
Pay close attention to the product label, especially regarding use for children. There are many products on the market, but some provide little protection.
Dressing appropriately and watching the time outdoor activities are planned can also reduce the likelihood of being bitten.
Just how bad are they?
“It’s hard to determine what the impact (of the rains) will be,” said Ashton Rucker, public information officer with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. “Breeding rates are so difficult to predict.”
Aside from being pests, the primary concern with mosquitoes is west Nile virus, West Nile virus is most commonly spread by infected mosquitoes and can cause febrile illness, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord).
“West Nile virus cases are most common in the late summer,” Rucker said. At that time, state health officials should have a better grasp of how the wet spring and early summer influenced the mosquito problem.
Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds. Infected mosquitoes can then spread the virus to humans and other animals.
Outbreaks have been occurring every summer since 1999. Almost 40,000 people in the U.S. have been reported with West Nile virus disease since that year, and of those over 17,000 have been seriously ill and more than 1,600 have died.
Many more cases of illness are not reported.
In 2013, there were 92 cases of West Nile virus in Kansas, and the first confirmed casein the state last year showed up in August.
West Nile virus disease cases have been reported from all 48 lower states. The only states that have not reported cases are Alaska and Hawaii.
Seasonal outbreaks often occur in local areas that can vary from year to year. The weather, numbers of birds that maintain the virus, numbers of mosquitoes that spread the virus, and human behavior are all factors that can influence when and where outbreaks occur.