Mosquito season has begun in the Grand Strand. So, it’s time for a refresher on mosquito facts and tips to protect yourself and your loved ones from mosquito-borne illnesses.
Mosquito Facts: Big Dangers in Little Bugs
While the word “mosquito” means “little fly”, these bugs are bigger dangers than their name implies. South Carolina is home to 61 different species of mosquito, all of which can carry and transmit a number of viruses, bacteria and parasites. Our warm, moist environment is an ideal breeding and feeding ground for mosquitoes.
In the not-so-distant past, mosquitoes were responsible for yearly outbreaks of yellow fever and malaria along our coast. Today, yellow fever and malaria are less common to our area. However, mosquito-borne illnesses that are a threat to us now include Zika virus, West Nile virus, cat/dog/human heartworm, Eastern Equine encephalitis, La Crosse encephalitis, Saint Louis encephalitis, Flanders virus (a warning sign of West Nile), Keystone virus, Lymphatic filariasis and potential new or as yet undiscovered strains of Flavivirus. Flavivirus are a family of viruses that cause viral hemorrhagic fever and include Japanese encephalitis (common in Asian countries), yellow fever, Dengue fever, West Nile and the Zika virus.
Mosquito Control: Tips to Protect Against Mosquitoes
There are a number of things you can do to help reduce your exposure and protect yourself and your loved ones from mosquitos. Here are some great tips to get you started:
1. Eliminate sources of standing water – Mosquitoes use standing water to breed. Drain, eliminate or fill areas where standing water collects. Get rid of containers that collect standing water or move them to avoid water collecting in them. If you have a bird bath for birds or as a water source for honeybees, empty it completely prior to dusk each day.
2. Avoid being outdoors during hours of high mosquito activity – Mosquitoes are most active at dusk, dawn, twilight and night time hours. However, some are out and active during the day in wooded or well-shaded areas so it is possible to be bitten during the day as well.
3. Keep mosquitoes locked out of your house – Repair or replace screens, replace seals around windows and doors, ensure screens and other protective devices fit properly with no gaps or spaces around the edges, keep windows closed as much as possible and use your air conditioner to cool your home.
4. Wear insect repellent when outside – Anytime you are outside during active mosquito hours or in areas where daytime bites can occur, be sure to wear insect repellent. Make sure to spray the outside of your clothing as mosquitoes can bite you through some types of fabrics. Insect repellents with DEET, Picaridin or Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus are considered the most effective.
5. Cover up – When possible, wear long sleeves and long pants (sprayed with insect repellent as well) to reduce likelihood of mosquito bites. If you will be spending a period of time outdoors, such as camping, day-long hiking or fishing, consider investing in insect-repellent clothes and shoes (treated with permethrin) for protection against mosquitoes, ticks, fleas and biting flies.
Mosquito control efforts for the general population are handled at the local and community level, in most cases. However, if your yard seems to be a mosquito hot spot, call The Pest Force. We can evaluate the conditions in your yard and around your home that could be attracting mosquitoes and offer options to help keep them at bay.