On Your Health

Check back to the INTEGRIS On Your Health blog for the latest health and wellness information for all Oklahomans, published three times a week.

Controlling Mosquitoes at Home

08/15/2016

Posted in

The spread of the Zika virus has put mosquito bite prevention in the spotlight, especially when traveling. But prevention is just as important at home. There are many small steps we can all take to help prevent the spread of mosquitoes and to protect ourselves from bites. In July, public health officials discovered Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in three Oklahoma counties, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health and Oklahoma State University. These mosquitoes, also known as yellow fever mosquitoes, are believed to be the main carrier of the Zika virus. The Zika virus has not been transmitted locally yet in Oklahoma, but scientists recently discovered local transmission in Florida.

Preventing mosquitoes from laying eggs

Mosquitoes spend the initial stages of their lives in water, so a key way to keep mosquitoes away from your property is to make sure they have nowhere to reproduce. Here are some suggestions from the Environmental Protection Agency:
  • Make sure you don’t have any standing water. There are plenty of obvious places where water can collect, such as gutters, buckets and toys. But make sure to check thoroughly. Standing water can be hidden in places like clogged gutters.
  • Flush out the water in spots where you want to keep water, like bird baths or rain barrels. Be sure to change the water at least once a week.
  • Ensure your pool water is circulating and treated correctly.
  • Avoid using saucers under potted plants. Water can collect, and even shallow water can serve as a mosquito breeding ground.

Creating a “bug-proof” home

Physical barriers and other design decisions can help keep mosquitoes out of our living spaces.
  • Use yellow-tinted lights outside, instead of white-tinted lights. Yellow lights attract fewer bugs.
  • Use air conditioning and fans. Cool, circulating air can be a deterrent, though not an absolute prevention measure.
  • Check doors and window frames for any gaps. Fill in with caulk, a floor strip or other materials to close the space mosquitoes could fly through.
  • Check screens on doors and windows for any holes or gaps.
  • Sprinkle BTI granules on your lawn. BTI is a bacteria normally found in soil that’s deadly to mosquitoes but safe for human, animals and plants. Garlic-smelling foggers are also available.
  • Private pest services can spray pesticides regularly. Many companies also offer one-time treatments, designed to rid yards of mosquitoes and other pests for a day or two. These one-time treatments are good to have done ahead of cookouts or parties.

Preventing mosquito bites

  • Use a bug repellent.
  • Citronella candles are a great repellent.
  • Wear pants and long sleeves if you are going somewhere with mosquitoes. Mosquitoes can sometimes bite through clothing that’s too thin.
  • Tuck in your shirt. Mosquitoes can fly into the gaps in your clothing. If you’re in a location where mosquitos are prevalent, consider tucking your pants into your socks.
  • Some clothing is specifically designed to repel bugs. It is treated with permethrin.
  • Avoid being outside at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Be sure to dress very young infants in clothing that covers their bodies. Don’t use any repellent on children younger than 2 months old. If necessary, place mosquito netting over strollers or car seats.
  • Children younger than 3 should not use repellents that have oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or para-menthane-diol (PMD).
  • For older children, be careful not to spray bug repellent directly onto children’s faces.
The threat of mosquito bites shouldn’t keep everyone indoors all summer, but we should all take simple precautions to stay safe. Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in Oklahoma

Subscribe to the INTEGRIS On Your Health blog

Subscribe for weekly emails full of useful and interesting Oklahoma-centric health and wellness info, from the doctors and health experts at INTEGRIS.