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Darrell Blackwelder: Mosquito season has arrived

July and August are the months when mosquitoes are upon those who work outdoors. Cooperative Extension has already received calls from people who are being attacked outdoors.

Unfortunately, there will be sharp increases in mosquitoes as a result of spotty rainfalls. Pop-up summer evening showers provide the perfect scenario for breeding through standing water. Any standing water, including gutters, flower pots, bird baths, etc. provides a perfect mosquito breeding ground and needs to be removed wherever possible.

Often overlooked breeding sites around homes are the receptacles that are placed under potted plants to collect water. Studies showed that more than 50 percent of the plant pot saucers contained mosquito larvae or pupae. While this may conflict with people’s need to water plants, it is preferable that water not be allowed to remain in the saucers beneath plants.

Another approach is to help eliminate mosquitoes to use Mosquito Dunks. These are often sold as doughnut-like tablets that contain beneficial bacteria (Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis) that kill mosquitoes, fungus gnats and a few other fly species. There is also a granular form of the product called Mosquito Bits.

As with any pesticide, the instructions for using the products are on their labels. These products are not intended for use in bowls or buckets used a drinking bowls for pets.  

Many ask if they can spray insecticides to control mosquitoes. Researchers at N.C. State University reveal that spraying provides a temporary fix but it does not completely solve mosquito problems if standing water providing the breeding sites is not addressed.

Eliminate these rain collectors and you’ll have more success at reducing mosquito populations. But please note: Mosquitoes can fly for miles. So if you decide to spray for mosquitoes, be advised the spray will only control the pest in the immediate area and only for a very short time.

If you do decide to spray, please remember to follow the label. Try to avoiding treating flowering plants that are most likely full of beneficial pollinators. Spraying lawns and shrubs will kill resting mosquitoes, but again it is not likely to have a tremendous overall impact. Also be aware that insect foggers tend to drift and may cross boundaries.

Health officials and entomologists are recommending the careful use of insect repellents, limiting their use on small children as the best method for controlling mosquitos. Go to http://insects.ncsu.edu/Urban/repel.htm for more detailed information on how to use repellents.

Also, please be aware that mosquitoes can have a devastating effect on our pets and other animals including horses. Eastern Equine Encephalitis is a serious disease that occurred recently in horses in eastern North Carolina.

Information about mosquito control, West Nile virus and other mosquito borne diseases and information can be found at: http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/ent/notes/Urban/mosquito.htm

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