June 16, 2004 | By: Laura Skillman
PRINCETON, Ky.,

Heavy rains in late May and early June provided many opportunities for standing water, and for mosquitoes to find optimal breeding sites.

“They are definitely out and building,” said Mike Potter, an Extension entomologist with the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture. “With all the rain and warmth it’s going to be a heck of a mosquito year.”

These insects are more than a nuisance and can carry diseases that are harmful to humans and animals. There are some things homeowners can do to help reduce the number of mosquitoes around their homes, but there are really no great options, he said.

The most effective way to reduce the mosquito population is to find and eliminate standing water. But many homes in Kentucky with severe mosquito problems have no signs of standing water. Shady areas also offer a refuge to adult mosquitoes during the day, so these areas are a potential for mosquito problems.

Targeting resting adult mosquitoes by spraying dense vegetation such as foundation plants, shrubs and lower branches of trees is one way to provide some relief, Potter said. A small but growing number of lawn care companies are using these products.

Some of these products, Pyrethroid insecticides, are available over the counter at local home stores. They can be effective but need to be reapplied periodically.

UK Entomologist Grayson Brown and his graduate students, along with Potter, are conducting a study of these treatments throughout the Lexington area this summer.

Potter offered some tips to minimize standing water and mosquito breeding areas around your property.

Dispose of old tires, buckets, aluminum cans, plastic sheeting or other items that can hold water. Empty accumulated water from trash cans, boats, wheel barrows, pet dishes and flower pot bottoms. If possible, turn these items over when not in use.

Clean debris from rain gutters and unclog obstructed downspouts. Clogged rain gutters are one of the most overlooked breeding sites around the home. Remove any standing water from flat roofs or around structures. Repair leaking faucets and air conditioners that produce puddles for several days.

Change water in bird baths and wading pools at least once a week and keep swimming pools cleaned and chlorinated. Ornamental pools can be aerated or stocked with mosquito-eating fish. Aeration helps because mosquitoes prefer quiet, non-flowing water for egg laying and development.

Fill or drain ditches and swampy areas and other soil depressions and remove, drain or fill tree holds and stumps with mortar or sealant to prevent accumulation of water. Eliminate standing water and seepage around animal watering troughs, cisterns and septic tanks. Be sure that cistern screens are intact and that access covers fit tightly.

Irrigate lawns and gardens carefully to prevent water from standing for several days.

Use of an insecticide that controls mosquito larvae may be helpful when it is not practical to eliminate breeding sites.

To lessen the chances of being bitten by a mosquito, consider wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants. Topically applied mosquito repellents will also help. The most effective repellents contain the active ingredient diethyl toluamide (DEET).  The higher the percentage of DEET in a product, the longer the protection lasts. Always read and follow label instructions when using these products.

Many consumer products are on the market claiming to attract, repel or kill mosquitoes but many of these devices are unproven or not effective.

“I’d save my money, quite honestly,” Potter said.

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Contact: 

Writer: Laura Skillman 270-365-7541 ext. 278
Source: Mike Potter, 859-257-2398