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Stop Pesky Mosquitos Before They Bite
Just as sure as the days become longer in spring, Georgians can count on the annoying buzz and bites of mosquitos.

Keeping mosquito populations under control is not only important for comfort, it's important for your health, too.

Mosquitos in Georgia are known to cause heartworms in dogs and carry several forms of encephalitis to humans and livestock. Georgia's dry weather may help the situation. The most recent potential threat, West Nile virus, can be deadly to some people.

Dry Weather Helps

Georgians are getting only a little break from the weather.

"Drought conditions do affect mosquito populations, as fewer breeding sites are available," said Beverly Sparks, an Extension Service entomologist with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

"However," Sparks said, "drought doesn't eliminate mosquito problems. Breeding sites are found in wading pools, bird baths, flower pot saucers and other sites."

It's still important to control mosquitos to keep populations down.

"Mosquito control hinges on treating or eliminating breeding sites," Sparks said. "Breeding sites created by people in clogged gutters, pots, old tires or any container that holds water should be eliminated. Other breeding sites like ponds, lakes and wetlands should be treated."

Control At Home

Many Georgia municipalities have mosquito-control spraying programs. But you can do some things yourself to keep populations down at home, Sparks said.

  • Get rid of breeding areas. Empty any containers of water, and get rid of trash. Even a drink can or a plastic wrapper can be a breeding ground for mosquitos.
  • Clean gutters. They can collect trash and water.
  • Remove any old tires, or drill holes in those used for playground equipment to allow them to drain.
  • Check tarps covering boats or other equipment that may collect water in pockets or indentions.
  • Commercial foggers, from aerosol cans to larger handheld products, can kill mosquitos.
  • In backyard ponds, fish can create waves and keep breeding down. In shallow edges where the fish and waves can't reach, use a donut-shaped Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) product.
  • "Bt products would work in bird baths, but the dosage would be too high," Sparks warned. "The best way to control mosquitos in bird baths is to change the water and rinse the bird bath every week."

    Reliable Repellants

    Besides developing good mosquito-control habits, Georgians should be careful to use mosquito repellants.

    "Those containing DEET are the most effective," said UGA Extension entomologist Elmer Gray. "Repellants with 10 percent to 35 percent DEET are effective for most mosquito populations. For children, don't exceed 10 percent. Rub it on your hands first, then apply it to the child's skin."

    Repellants with higher DEET concentrations can be used by adults only in areas that have larger mosquito populations or where there will be long intervals between applications.

    (Faith Peppers is the director of public affairs with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

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