April showers bring May flowers — and swarming mosquitoes. There are more than 170 species of mosquitoes in North America, many of them capable of carrying deadly diseases.
The American Mosquito Control Association is urging the public to be aware of the harm that mosquitoes can cause and is offering tips for practicing safe mosquito control this spring.
“A mosquito needs as little as a teaspoon of standing water to lay its eggs,” says AMCA technical adviser Joe Conlon. “Places like rain gutters, old outdoor buckets, tree holes and empty flower pots make excellent spots for breeding. Therefore, it’s extremely important to eliminate these sources to help reduce the mosquito population around your home and your neighborhood.”
To help prepare for mosquito season, AMCA reminds the public to practice the three D’s — Drain, Dress and Defend:
- Drain:Empty out water containers at least once per week.
- Dress:Wear long sleeves, long pants and light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
- Defend:Properly apply an approved repellent such as DEET, picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon-eucalyptus.
Worldwide, mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria, yellow fever and dengue fever infect and kill millions of people every year. In the United States, mosquitoes spread several types of encephalitis, a swelling of the brain, in addition to transmitting heartworm to common household pets.
“Mosquitoes, and the diseases they carry, are already here,” adds Conlon. “While we cannot make them completely disappear, we must be prepared to prevent their spread throughout our public health landscape. This requires safe, effective, sustained mosquito control and awareness in the community.”
AMCA offers these tips for making any backyard a mosquito-free zone:
- Dispose of old tires — they can breed thousands of mosquitoes.
- Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers to avoid water collection.
- Clear roof gutters of debris.
- Clean pet water dishes regularly.
- Check outdoor toys and empty collected rainwater children’s toys.
- Repair leaky outdoor faucets.
- Change the water in bird baths at least once a week.