Posts tagged with "entomology"

How to get rid of mosquitoes

Mosquitoes may not transmit COVID-19, but they can carry other dangerous diseases, including West Nile virus and Zika.

Most regions of the U.S. have issues with mosquitoes, but knowing prevention and mitigation measures can stop them from mushrooming into a big problem, says Dr. Craig Stoops (www.mosquito-authority.com), a retired U.S. Navy medical entomologist and chief science officer at Mosquito® Authority, a mosquito control company. 

“People are unfortunately attractive to mosquitoes,” Dr. Stoops says, “but there are numerous ways we can avoid the irritation and the potential danger of a bite. So much has to do with preparing your property and knowing how mosquitoes thrive.

“Some people are more susceptible to bites than others. Mosquitoes can be attracted to different chemicals found in human skin. But just because mosquitoes are an inevitable part of summer doesn’t mean you’re defenseless.”

Dr. Stoops offers five tips to reduce the appearance of mosquitoes and their biter:

  • Consider a professional service. Sometimes people prefer to do it themselves when it comes to fixing home issues, but they later find that a persistent problem is often better left to trained professionals. “Companies that specialize in mosquito control can effectively address the problem by implementing an entire program over a period of time, including follow-ups,” Dr. Stoops says. “There is a science and strategy to a program, and it requires considerable knowledge of how to treat different types of yards in different regions of the country. A good company in this industry continually educates its people as well as the consumers on how to effectively stay ahead of the problem.”
  • Get rid of standing water. Still water is a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. Common places of standing water include: clogged drain gutters, corrugated drain pipes, bird baths, pet bowls, planters, trash and recycling bins, children’s toys, and kiddie pools. “It is important to remain vigilant and remove any containers and debris from your yard to lower the habitats available to mosquitoes,” Dr. Stoops says. “A mosquito needs only about a tablespoon of water to lay eggs.”
  • Use safe repellents. Repellents registered by the Environmental Protection Agency have been reviewed and approved to pose minimal risk when used properly. “Some of the most effective ingredients commonly referred to in a repellent are DEET, Picaridan, and oil of lemon eucalyptus,” Dr. Stoops says. EPA-approved repellents provide up to two hours of protection.
  • Dress appropriately. “Studies have shown that some mosquitoes are more attracted to dark clothing,” Dr. Stoops says. “Avoid wearing lightweight, thin materials, which mosquitoes can bite right through. Instead, opt for tightly woven materials, like cotton, denim, nylon, or windbreaker-type materials, which are more difficult for the bugs to penetrate. Clothing that provides UV protection is typically tightly woven and often protects against insect bites, too.”
  • Keep your landscape clean. “Trimmed trees and shrubs improve a property’s air circulation,” Dr. Stoops says. “The increased air flow will physically push mosquitoes out of that area and remove the environment they thrive in. Also, there are some gardening choices that can deter mosquitoes: basil, lavender, and catnip are all plants that mosquitoes don’t like.”

“Many people just think of bug spray during mosquito season,” Dr. Stoops says. “The main idea should be to keep them out of your yard as much as possible. From there, considering summer is the time to get away, always prepare for your environment, especially if hiking or camping.”

About Dr. Craig Stoops

Dr. Craig Stoops (www.mosquito-authority.com), LCDR (ret.) MSC USN, is a retired U.S. Navy Medical Entomologist and chief science officer at Mosquito® Authority, a mosquito control company. He has conducted mosquito control and research in the United States, South and Central America, Southeast Asia, Africa and the Middle East. He has a B.S. in biology from Shippensburg University and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Entomology from Clemson University. Dr. Stoops is board certified by the Entomological Society of America in Medical and Veterinary Entomology.

Mosquito illustration by Kaelen Felix for 360 MAGAZINE

Preventing Mosquito Bites Around Your Home

By Dr. Craig Stoops

For many people, mosquitoes are a part of life in the summer. Their presence is annoying and can even threaten the health of people and pets.  

Fortunately, there are ways people can protect themselves against mosquito bites. Three effective ways to control mosquitoes around a house and limit exposure to their bites are: 1) Source reduction, 2) EPA-approved repellents, and 3) Hiring a professional.

Source reduction

Many mosquito species like to use water found in unattended bird baths or discarded items such as buckets, tarps, and children’s toys as locations to lay their eggs and continue the next generation. By emptying and cleaning bird baths and discarding items that can hold water (often called “tip and toss”) one can greatly diminish the mosquito population around their house and protect themselves from mosquito bites.

It is important to get your neighbors involved as well. What they do will impact you because mosquitoes will easily go from one property to the one next door seeking a blood meal.

EPA-approved repellents

There are numerous safe and effective insect repellents available on the market in a variety of formulations such as sprays, creams and wipes. The best and longest-lasting repellents contain the active ingredient DEET, but there are other active ingredients available such as picaridin, IR3535 and several botanical ingredients such as lemongrass oil and others. Visit the U.S. CDC website on mosquito bite prevention for additional information: https://www.cdc.gov/ncezid/dvbd/about/prevent-bites.html

Researchers are always looking for additional “tools for the repellent toolkit” and new effective active ingredients have been recently found. One example is nootkatone. The EPA has recently provided approval for this active ingredient developed by scientists and the U.S. CDC from the Alaska yellow cedar tree. It has shown in the laboratory to be effective at repelling both mosquitoes and ticks and is available for development by a company into a commercially available product. 

Not everyone will be comfortable using a repellent that contains DEET. And repellents are only effective if people use them, so having ingredients like nootkatone available is important in protecting people from mosquito bites. Here is the U.S. CDC webpage on nootkatone: https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2020/p0810-nootkatone-registered-epa.html

Hire a professional

While people can do a lot to control the mosquitoes around their house by discarding and emptying containers that breed mosquitoes, there may be times that getting advice from a professional is necessary to effectively control the problem. Pest control operators specifically trained in identifying the mosquitoes in your yard and recommending an integrated control program can be a great way to provide season-long relief from mosquito bites.  

When considering using a pest control company, be sure to do your homework and make certain you are hiring certified professionals who understand the methods and limitations of mosquito control. These professionals will be able to identify problem areas and use both non-chemical and EPA-approved insecticides to control the problem.

Dr. Craig Stoops (www.mosquito-authority.com), LCDR (ret.) MSC USN, is a retired U.S. Navy medical entomologist and chief science officer at Mosquito® Authority, a mosquito control company. He has conducted mosquito control and research in the United States, South and Central America, Southeast Asia, Africa and the Middle East. He has a B.S. in biology from Shippensburg University and an M.S. and Ph.D. in entomology from Clemson University. Dr. Stoops is board certified by the Entomological Society of America in medical and veterinary entomology.