Following the recent announcement of a Wayne County man’s death — the year’s first fatality from West Nile Virus in the state — the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services and the North Carolina Pest Management Association (NCPMA) are reminding North Carolinians to take the proper precaution to prevent mosquito bites, and to contact a pest professional to assist with professional mosquito prevention treatments.
“We want the people of North Carolina to know that there are options available to help prevent mosquito infestations, and our member companies can help them find the solution that best fits their needs,” said Lee Smith, NCPMA board member. “A professional pest management company can help homeowners develop treatment plans to reduce mosquito populations,” he said.
In most cases mosquito bites can cause itchy bumps, but the pests can also be carriers of diseases such as West Nile Virus and, in rare cases, malaria and dengue fever.
Paige Burns, Cooperative Extension agent in Richmond County, said spraying pesticides in your backyard to guard against mosquitoes is not always the best course of action.
“You can’t close off your backyard,” said Burns. “Your neighbor may have pots or an old bird bath that has stagnant water in it, which is a resource for mosquitoes to breed.”
Burns said people waste a lot of money spraying their backyard with pesticides, only to be stung by mosquitoes from next door.
Michael Waldvogel, Extension Entomologist with North Carolina State University, said all the rain we’ve received has contributed to the increase in mosquitoes.
Waldvogel said, “Many areas of the state saw significant rainfall last week and that also means they will see a rise in mosquito activity particularly by the Asian tiger mosquito which takes advantage of those small and often inconspicuous sites around your property that fill with storm water and become prime mosquito breeding sites. So, before people start planning a chemical assault on their yards as the solution to their mosquito problems, they need to start with the simpler and more long-term approach of eliminating ‘collectibles.’ I don’t mean souvenirs; we’re talking about all of those objects that collect and retain rainwater for days (and) weeks.”
He said gutters, flower pots, bird baths as Burns mentioned, tires, pet water bowls or troughs can be breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
“Decorative fish ponds can be a source of mosquitoes if they contain a lot of vegetation that provides hiding places for the mosquito larvae,” said Waldvogel. “Tree holes, when limbs fall off trees, the remaining hole in the trunk can collect water. For horse owners with water troughs near stalls or out in pastures, one option is to use a product such as Mosquito Dunks, which contain the bacteria ‘Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis’ which kills the mosquito larvae (not the adults). Although you can use them in outdoor water bowls for pets, it is far simpler — and better for your animals — if you ‘tip and toss’ the water from the bowl and replenish it with fresh water daily.”
If you have a serious pest problem, consulting an official is one of the best options. Your local health department may be able to provide you with someone to contact, but not always.
“We don’t have a mosquito control program here at the Anson County Health Department,” said Interim Health Director Carol Ann Gibson. “So we never get complaints here.”
— Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 15, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.