Don?t let mosquitos take the bite out of summer

Eliminating standing water where mosquitos breed and thwarting their efforts to feed can help keep your environment mosquito-free this spring and summer.
Eliminating standing water where mosquitos breed and thwarting their efforts to feed can help keep your environment mosquito-free this spring and summer.

Recent wet weather combined with warmer temperatures herald the arrival of cookouts, lounging poolside, weekends at the beach and a host of fun outdoor activities.

Spring and summer are also mosquito season, and the little blood-suckers are far more than just an itchy nuisance. Mosquitos carry and transmit diseases that kill more than a million people worldwide every year, according to the American Mosquito Control Associa?tion.

In America, mosquitos have been linked to the transmission of West Nile Virus in humans and heartworms in dogs, the AMCA reports.

In 2014, 47 states and the District of Columbia had reported cases of West Nile infections in people, birds and mosquitos, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.

Sixty percent of the 2,122 people infected in 2014 had infections that affect the brain, such as meningitis or encephalitis.

Fortunately, you can take effective steps to protect your home, family and pets from exposure to mosquitoes. Eliminating standing water where mosquitos breed and thwarting their efforts to feed can help keep your environment mosquito-free this spring and summer.

Reduce breeding

?Many homeowners may not realize that standing water and puddles in their yards can play a large role in attracting mosquitos,? said Ryan Larsen, a civil engineer with NDS Inc., the nation?s leading manufacturer of landscape drainage solutions. ?Standing water is an ideal breeding location for mosquitos, which lay their eggs in still water.?

Larsen advises homeowners to start their mosquito-prevention efforts by inspecting their yards to identify places where water may collect, such as low spots, downspouts, retaining walls, edging, walkways and patios. Check gutters and downspouts to be sure they?re free of obstructions, and address drainage issues in the landscaping.

?Low areas can easily turn into water reservoirs that cause serious drainage problems,? Larsen said. ?Muddy, wet areas not only look bad, they kill grass, attract mosquitos and can evolve into more serious property damage.?

Depending on your landscape and the severity of drainage problems, you may need to install a drainage system to prevent standing water from collecting on your property.

Do-it-yourselfers can solve minor problems, but more severe situations may require professional intervention. In most cases, a drainage system can be installed in a single weekend, Larsen said.

Thwart feeding

Eliminating standing water on your property can help reduce mosquitos breeding in your yard, and other steps can help further protect you from marauding mosquitos. Some mosquitos will travel 40 miles for a meal, the AMCA says. When you?re outdoors, take steps to protect yourself, your family and pets from mosquitos hunting for blood.

Wear insect repellant on exposed skin and apply it to clothing as well, the CDC advises. Look for repellants with an active ingredient that?s recommended by the CDC and EPA, like DEET, picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus.

Dress in lighter-colored clothes as mosquitos are attracted to darker colors. If it?s not too hot, wear long sleeves and pants to reduce skin exposure, especially between dusk and dawn when the mosquitos known to spread West Nile are most active.

In your backyard, try burning citronella candles on patio tables, tossing some sprigs or rosemary on the grill or running a fan at ground level to help keep mosquitos away.