Mosquito Prevention After Tropical Storms
Although we were spared much of the brunt of Tropical Storm Elsa, parts of North Carolina were still pummeled with enough rain and wind to cause flooding and environmental damage. Unfortunately, these conditions often promote a boom in mosquito populations. We have a few months left both in the hurricane and mosquito season, so, now is a great time to remind citizens (and ourselves!) of the importance of mosquito prevention after a hurricane and/or tropical storm. A few proactive measures could significantly reduce the number of mosquitoes we observe after heavy rainfall, including:
- Clearing drainage ditches of debris so that stormwater does not accumulate and stagnate.
- Eliminating other mosquito breeding sites, such objects in the backyard that hold stormwater for days-weeks.
- Cleaning gutters and downspouts which may have accumulated debris and standing water.
- Filling in or draining areas of the yard that accumulate water (ruts, hollow tree stumps, etc.).
- Cutting the grass and trimming shrubbery to reduce harborage spaces for resting, adult mosquitoes.
Keep in mind that an item as small as a bottle cap can hold enough water to support the development of mosquito larvae. Eliminating even the smallest pockets of standing water is crucial for effective mosquito management.
Although these measures are helpful, it is likely that many areas will experience a rise in mosquito numbers, regardless. Floodwater mosquito presence is especially likely to uptick. This being the case, a rise in the number of mosquito treatments will probably follow, too. Remind our audiences of the following:
- Before spraying your lawn and landscape yourself, or having a professional execute a treatment, communicate with neighbors. They need to understand that a pesticide application is occurring in case they need to close windows or move children and/or pets from the area. Be aware of the plants in the area, especially if there are herb or vegetable gardens nearby because many of the common insecticides used for mosquito control are not approved for application to edible plants.
- Be aware of pollinators and beneficial insects when using pesticides. Always follow product label directions for use (DFU) and time treatment applications appropriately to avoid contact with bees and other non-target organisms.
- When treating or cleaning up mosquito breeding sites, wear appropriate clothing (long sleeve shirts and pants) and apply a protective mosquito repellent.
It is also important to be cognizant of the risk of mosquito-borne diseases during this time. Infections of humans and animals with West Nile virus (WNV), Eastern Equine encephalitis virus (EEEV), and La Crosse encephalitis virus (LACV) are likely to occur in the coming weeks. Horses should be vaccinated for EEEV and people should wear appropriate repellents in areas where mosquitoes are present to avoid being bitten.
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