When thinking of mosquitoes, think of “Fight the Bite Ohio!” It’s a catchy slogan but more importantly could save you from a serious mosquito-borne illness. As part of Ohio’s, Fight the Bite campaign the Meigs County Health Department is asking everyone to remember to avoid mosquitoes and mosquito bites, plan ahead for mosquitoes while traveling and stop mosquitoes from breeding in and around your home.
There are several ways to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. Avoid the most active time for mosquitoes that is during the early dawn or dusk. If you are outside during these times then protect yourself with light colored clothing covering your skin or use a mosquito repellent that contains an EPA-registered active ingredient such as DEET or picaridian. As with the use of a chemical, it is important to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer. Keep mosquitoes outside the home by checking all doors and windows for tight-fitting screens with no holes or tears.
When preparing to travel you should plan ahead for mosquitoes. Check for warnings or notices for mosquito-borne disease activity in the area you’re going by visiting the website for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – Travelers’ Health. Also, talk with your healthcare provider about possible vaccinations against certain mosquito-borne diseases that may be required by the countries you may be traveling to. As mentioned before, don’t forget to bring along mosquito repellents and light-colored clothing that will cover your arms and legs.
“Fight the Bite, Ohio!” and stop mosquitoes from breeding around your home and property. By draining any unnecessary stagnant water on your property you remove the breeding ground and habitat of most mosquitoes. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in calm, stagnant water, which can include bird baths, puddles, stagnant ditches, gutter drains, and discarded containers like buckets, cans or bottles. Amazingly, mosquitoes only need less than a cup of water to lay eggs and in the right conditions will produce biting adults in only four to seven days. Mosquitoes will lay 100-300 eggs at a time. Only the female mosquito bites because it needs blood to develop her eggs. The mosquito will feed on any animal or person that is nearby but it will also fly miles away to feed. They use scent, sight and heat to locate a meal. They are most attracted to carbon dioxide, which is what we breathe out and to dark clothing. Below are a few more ways to stop mosquitoes from breeding around your home:
* Properly dispose any all old tires or at least prevent water from collecting inside them.
* Dispose of tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots, or similar water-holding containers. No matter how small.
* Make sure roof gutters drain properly. Clean gutters in the spring and fall.
* Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs. If not in use, keep empty and covered. There are chemicals called “mosquito dunks” that prevent mosquitoes in unused pools. They can be purchased at most hardware stores.
* Change the water in bird baths at least once a week.
* Turn over plastic wading pools, and wheelbarrows, etc. when not in use.
* Clean ditches of obstructions so they drain properly.
* Check trees for cavities that hold water and fill them with soil, gravel, or sand.
* Remind or help neighbors to eliminate breeding sites on their properties.
* Fix outdoor leaking faucets.
Steve Swatzel, RS, is the Director of Environmental Health for the Meigs County Health Department.