Protecting Your Family from Mosquitos
By Joan Whetzel
During the spring, summer and early autumn months, heavy rains bring on the mosquitoes, especially in the southern states. Every time it rains, bumper crops of the pests hatch and go looking for victims. Any place water stands can become breeding and hatching grounds for the next generation of mosquitoes. In areas of the country, where it normally rains a lot, there are many species of mosquitoes. Houston, for example, plays host to at least 55 species of the little blood-suckers. But don't worry.There are ways to protect yourself and your family from mosquito bites from knowing whre they are most likely to lay their eggs, to prevention techniques, and even to taking care of the bites after they've appeared.
Where Mosquitoes Lay Their Eggs
Mosquitoes lay their eggs in soil and any place where standing water is a constant (i.e. storm sewers and containers that hold water). The eggs remain dormant, awaiting the next rainstorm. Ponding, standing water, and flooding that occurs following a rain promotes the hatching process.
The mosquitoes that hatch from flood waters don't carry the dangerous West Nile Virus, but the mosquitos that hatch from standing water sites (in particular the Culex mosquitoes) do carry the virus. Any containers that hold standing water - including garbage cans, old tires, birdbaths, storm sewers, retention ponds, and parks serving as water retention basins - any place where the water goes stagnant after the rains have stopped, are the breeding grounds for the Culex mosquitoes. The end of May and beginning of June marks the beginning of the West Nile Virus Season.
Community Wide Solutions
Many communities around the country - especially those prone to mosquito infestation problems - provide mosquito spraying. They generally spray the usual mosquito larvae sites as soon after a rain as possible, and continue spraying for up to 5 days following a rain event. Some communities and cities have programs in place to remove sources of standing water (old tires for example) in city or county-wide areas, and in some cases, will even provide such removal in residential areas.
What Private Citizens Can Do About Standing Water
In most residential neighborhoods, the residents are responsible for clearing away any debris or containers that hold standing water and may become breeding grounds mosquitoes. The following tasks will help control mosquitoes within your neighborhood:
- Get rid of old tires, buckets, metal drums or any other unused containers that will hold stagnant water.
- Regularly empty and clean out other water holding containers, like wading pools and bird baths.
- Regularly clear debris from drains, ditches, culverts and rain gutters so that storm waters will drain away quickly when it rains.
- Keep trash cans, wading pools, and sand boxes when a storm is imminent in order to keep the excess water out.
- Replace water in birdbaths weekly
- Keep ornamental ponds stocked with fish - they eat insects including mosquitoes.
Other Ways to Protect Your Family from Mosquitos
A few of the practical measures for mosquito bite protection include wearing mosquito repellant and protective clothing when outdoors. This is especially true at dusk and dawn when the humidity levels go up and the temperatures are cool enough to be considered inviting weather for the mosquitoes. Also steer clear of perfumes as mosquitoes are attracted to them.
Mosquito Bite Remedies
Even with preventative measure, mosquito bites happen. Try one of these home remedies to help calm the itch.
- Cool the sting by rubbing it with cold water or ice.
- Make a paste from baking powder and water, then smear it over the bites.
- Wet the bite with water, then rub the area with salt.
- Wipe the bite area with apple cider vinegar.
- Spread a little to the bite area. Peppermint works best.
- Stop the itching with aloe. Aloe will also speed up the healing process.
If all else fails, go to the store and purchase some calamine lotion. It cools and soothes the bites.