Clint Perkins

With all the recent rains, mosquitos will be a major problem this year. They have that uncanny ability to just make life miserable for us as we go about our daily activities. We must not forget that mosquitos are considered to be an important vector of many different human and animal diseases, and populations should be controlled by both individual and community efforts.

There are many steps that homeowners can take to reduce mosquito populations. One is to remove or reduce the amount of stagnant water pools, which make ideal breeding sites for mosquitos and are formed from rainwater or irrigation runoff. Controlling this runoff is one way everyone can help with mosquito control. This can be accomplished by eliminating all low-lying areas that would allow water to collect.

Do not allow water to stand in potted plant saucers, pet bowls, wading pools or other holding containers for more than three days, and keep rain gutters clean and free of leaves and other debris. Allowing water to flow and be discharged properly will eliminate these as potential breeding sights.

For areas that have standing water and can't be drained, mosquito dunks are a good buy. The dunks, shaped like small donuts, use a bacterially derived pesticide called Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti). Bti disrupts the life cycle of insects that lay their eggs in standing or running water. It is non-toxic to humans, amphibians, fish, crustaceans, adult insects, flatworms and mollusks. Neither is it toxic to insect predators of the black fly, such as dragonflies. The dunks are inexpensive, can be simply dropped into the breeding pools and generally last for months.

As we know, eliminating all the potential breeding sites is impossible, so we must be prepared to live with some degree of nuisance from mosquitoes. Some key facts to remember are to always expect a population growth seven to 10 days after rain. Try to schedule outdoor activities away from early morning and late evening, as these are the major feeding times for mosquitoes. Avoid using bug zappers, as mosquitoes use light to navigate, and once a food source is located near the light, then the light is ignored and mosquitoes concentrate on the food source. Remove all trash, jars, cans, bottles, tires and all other items that can collect water and provide a breeding site. In conclusion, remember, when having to be outside during the early morning and late evening hours, use repellants to avoid becoming a feeding source for mosquitoes.

If you have any further questions, please contact Clint Perkins at the Smith County Extension Office, 1517 W. Front St. in Tyler, or call 903-590-2980.

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