Growing Green: Mosquito control
The mosquito (Aedes aegypti) that carries the Zika Virus is not a threat in the Lehigh Valley. It is a tropical species and not adapted to the region’s cooler climate.
We do have the Asian Tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus), which is considered a potential vector for the Zika Virus. We also have plenty of Culex mosquitoes, the species that transmits West Nile virus.
In a telephone press conference, Dr. Tom Frieden, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said, “It is now clear the CDC has concluded that Zika does cause Microcephaly.” The CDS based it conclusion on a peer review of a New England Journal of Medicine report released April 14.
In a press release April 15, Dr. Karen Murphy, Secretary of Health, Pennsylvania Department of Health, stated, “The confirmation of these Zika-related health complications reinforces the need for all Pennsylvanians to be aware of how to protect themselves from the Zika Virus.”
It is important to do everything we can to get rid of mosquitoes. Controlling mosquitoes, and exposure to diseases they may carry, can be done by chemical and non-chemical methods. Your first line of defense begins at home.
Here are some things that you can do to control mosquitoes around the home:
Remove their habitat (where they live and breed). Eliminate standing water in old tires, buckets, plastic covers, toys, or any other container where mosquitoes can breed. Tires have become the most important mosquito breeding sites in the country.
Clean clogged roof gutters every year, particularly if leaves from surrounding trees tend to plug the drains. Roof gutters are easily overlooked, but they can produce millions of mosquitoes each season.
Empty and change the water in birdbaths, fountains, wading pools, rain barrels, and potted plant trays at least once a week to destroy potential mosquito habitats.
Drain or fill temporary pools of water with dirt.
Keep swimming pool water treated and circulating. Mosquitoes often breed in water that collects on swimming pool covers.
Alter the landscape of your property to eliminate standing water. During warm weather, mosquitoes will breed in any puddle of water.
Make sure window and door screens are “bug tight.”
Prevent your exposure to mosquitoes. Use EPA-registered mosquito repellents when necessary and follow label directions and precautions closely. Use head nets, long sleeves, and long pants if you venture into areas with high mosquito populations.
Mosquitoes are repelled by high winds, so electric fans may provide some relief at outdoor events.
Stay indoors at dawn, dusk and in the early evening, when mosquitoes are most active.
The concern about Zika Virus is especially for people traveling outside of the United States to the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America. Anyone visiting an infected area should take precautions.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): cdc.gov
Pennsylvania Department of Health: zika.pa.gov
Growing Green” is contributed by Lehigh County Extension Office Staff and Master Gardeners. Information: Lehigh County Extension Office, 610-391-9840; Northampton County Extension Office, 610-746-1970.