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Help Eliminate Mosquitoes and Enjoy Summer

The following article was written by Thomas L. Smith, York County West Nile Virus Program Administrator - Penn State Cooperative Extension

Summer is starting in York City. Everyone likes to be outside. Unfortunately this is also peak mosquito season. Residing in a city environment, mosquitoes can come from storm water systems below ground to flat roofs above. But most come from other sources found in our own yards and neighborhoods. Mosquito concerns can be greatly reduced by implementing simple methods that are free. This is nothing new. History of Pennsylvania documents many human health issues due to mosquitoes dating back to colonial times. Prevalent diseases transmitted by mosquitoes then were Yellow Fever and Malaria. Eliminating these diseases was achieved by implementing simple methods of good sanitation.

Many mosquito species can potentially transmit West Nile Virus and other diseases to humans. Mosquitoes do have a purpose. In nature, mosquitoes are food for other animals such as fish, dragonflies and ducks. As humans we create breeding habitat that only benefit mosquitoes. Just what are these you ask? Depending on the species of mosquito these items can be as large as an abandoned swimming pool to something as small as a milk jug cap. Most mosquito problems are created in our own yards. Cleaning up trash and yard clutter will eliminate most mosquito issues. What is yard clutter? Anything that has collected in a yard; toys, tires, buckets, garden equipment or other items covered with a tarp. If it can collect and hold water then it can breed mosquitoes. Take time to inspect your yard. Rain barrels should be screened. Turn over buckets and dump the water. Put other items away in a shed or basement. Contact your neighborhood association and help organize a neighborhood cleanup.

For the past two years York City has been invaded by a new exotic daytime biting mosquito. The Asian Tiger is an aggressive, repeat biting mosquito imported to the US from Asia. Globally this mosquito species can transmit over twenty different diseases. Fortunately for residents of York City most of these diseases are not present in our area. In the future this mosquito could be a major vector for us. Currently the Asian Tiger mosquito is an effective vector of Heartworm Disease to dogs and cats. This mosquito tunes in on the odor of pet waste. Pet waste needs to be cleaned up as soon as possible to not attract the Asian Tiger. If you happen to go outside the Asian Tiger will just as easily seek you out for a blood-meal. Trash and yard clutter are the preferred breeding habitat of this mosquito. Eggs are placed in these items before there is water. Once it rains these mosquitoes hatch. If cleanup is done there are no sources available for the Asian Tiger to continue its life cycle. This mosquito and many others are gone and will not return the following year. During the heat in the summer mosquitoes can go from egg to biting adult in seven days. Adult mosquitoes are attracted to other environments for resting area. Resting requirements of the Asian Tiger are conditions that provide shade with cooler temperatures and moisture. This could be an ornamental pond, plants in pots or containers and shrubs or hedges. If you do have shrubs or hedges in your yard the recommendation is to prune them to allow more are flow. Mosquitoes do not like windy conditions and will move to another location.

Many York City residents like to enjoy their backyard deck or patio, but cannot because there are still pesky mosquitoes around. There is an answer. Take an electric fan outside with you and turn it on. Mosquitoes are weak fliers and do not like wind. A fan will keep the air moving and help keep mosquitoes away. If you are trying to work in your garden we also have some recommendations. Try and wear loose fitting long pants, long sleeve shirt and use some sort of repellent. Mosquitoes can bite through clothing. There are many repellent products available with different ingredients and concentrations. Please read the label and select a repellent that works for you and your family.

If you have more questions or concerns about mosquitoes, ticks and pesticide use please contact:

Penn State Cooperative Extension-York County West Nile Virus Program by phone at 717-840-2375 or email at tls35@psu.edu County wide mosquito surveillance is performed by the staff. Additional literature and educational materials are available for everyone. Age appropriate science resources are also available for children.

If you would like to learn more about the history of mosquito diseases, find handouts or promote your child’s interest in reading please visit your closest York County Library. Each year Penn State Cooperative Extension partners with the York County Library System. Look for our display at the Martin Library.

 

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