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"Skeeter" season

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Take steps to control mosquitos at home

By Greg Summers

Mosquitoes have been around for thousands, maybe millions, of years.

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And these winged blood suckers have no intention of taking off this summer.

With the pop-up thunderstorm season now in full swing, it doesn’t take much to create a mosquito nuisance, said Sue Ferguson, an environmental health manager for S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.

That’s where a little routine yard sprucing-up comes in.

“Everyone can take part in local mosquito prevention and control efforts by doing some basic cleaning activities around their homes,” she said.

Mosquitoes are not only an aggravating nuisance, they also can be quite dangerous. That’s because mosquitoes can transmit diseases such as malaria, yellow fever, dengue, filariasis and encephalitis to humans and animals, according to the American Mosquito Control Association. Their bites and swarms on farm animals can cause weight loss and decreased milk production as well. 

Dr. Chris Evans, an entomologist with DHEC’s Bureau of Laboratories, said mosquitoes pick up blood-borne viruses such as West Nile and Eastern equine encephalitis from feeding on infected birds and then pass the viruses to humans, farm livestock and pets. 

While the Midwest United States is preparing for its worst mosquito season in years, thanks to heavy spring and early rains, it doesn’t take much water for mosquitoes to flourish.

Ferguson said mosquito populations can emerge from very small amounts of stagnant water.

“Removing items from your yard that collect water, cleaning roof gutters and filling in low- lying areas will help prevent mosquitoes from breeding and allow outdoor activities such as gardening barbecues and outdoor sports to be safer and more enjoyable,” she said.

Tips to keep mosquitoes in check

– Remove any buckets, cups, bottles, flower pots, plastic bags or any water-holding containers that have accumulated outside.

– Don’t let water stagnate in low- lying areas of the yard, in boats or on tarps that cover boats, swimming pools, grills and woodpiles.

– Drain or get rid of old tires. Drill drain holes in tire swings. 

– Keep birdbaths and pet bowls clean. Flush them with clear, clean water at least once a week.

– Regularly clean out  fallen leaves and other yard debris from rain gutters and down spouts. 

Also, make sure all screens on windows and doors are in good shape.  

– Make sure trash cans and recycling bins have tight-fitting lids. If lids aren’t available, drill holes in the bottom of the cans or bins.

– Get rid of places where adult mosquitoes can find cool, dark and damp areas to rest by mowing the lawn, trimming shrubbery and cutting down weeds and vines such as ivy, in the yard and next to the house.

– If you have holes in your yard where water has been standing for five to seven days, fill them in. 

Did you know?

– There are at least 61 different mosquito species in South Carolina and 3,200 species worldwide.

– Only female mosquitoes bite. The reason females seek animal and human blood before laying eggs is to get the nutrients the eggs need to develop. They usually live off nectar. 

– Most mosquito species bite during dawn, dusk, twilight hours and night. However, a few species bite during the day, especially in wooded or shaded areas. They sense movement and track down warm-blooded animals by detecting body heat.

– Women get more mosquito bites than men because of hormonal differences.

– Mosquitoes are drawn to the carbon dioxide we breathe out, and lactic acid and other components in sweat, as well as perfume, hair spray, deodorant and dark-colored clothing.

– Downing garlic, garlic pills or B12 will not repel mosquitoes. 

– Eating bananas won’t attract mosquitoes, but drinking beer will.