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SAN ANTONIO (June 7, 2021) – Although the ongoing downpour of rains has been good for the Edwards Aquifer and lawns, it's not so great for residents who quickly become a prime target for mosquitoes.
Metro Health is offering the community some sound advice on how to prevent mosquitoes from developing, and how to protect yourself from mosquito bites.
"One of the most important things to do is to remove standing water, which is a main source for mosquito development," explains Joel Lara of Metro Health's Vector Control Program. "It doesn't take much water, either. We have found larvae in caps of soda water bottles."
Lara advises residents to keep mosquitoes from laying eggs inside and outside of your home by turning over or throwing out containers that hold water, such as:
- Pet water bowls
- Flowerpot saucers
- Discarded tires
- Pool covers
- Trash cans
- Rain barrels
These actions help reduce the number of mosquitoes around areas where people live. "There are four stages of the life cycle of mosquitoes; three of them are in water," Lara explained. Therefore, he recommends people buy mosquito dunks at retail stores they can place in standing water to prevent mosquito development.
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If water must be stored, tightly cover storage containers to prevent mosquitoes from getting inside and laying eggs. Also, when water is contaminated with organic matter, such as animal waste, grass and leaves, the chances that mosquito larvae will survive could increase because contaminated matter provides food for larvae to eat.
Incidentally, it's the females who are the "biters" although they don't have teeth. Instead, they use a long tubular mouthpiece called a proboscis. It has a serrated edge to pierce a person's skin. "They take a blood meal and use it for egg development," Lara said.
To avoid becoming a meal for mosquitoes, here is what you can do.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts, pants and socks to protect exposed skin during dusk and dawn, which is when mosquitoes are most active.
- Avoid use of perfumes and colognes when working outdoors.
- Use air conditioning or make sure there are screens on all doors and windows to keep mosquitoes from entering your home.
- Use an insect repellent that is EPA registered and always follow the label's directions
- Choose a repellent that provides protection for the length of time you will be outdoors. The more active ingredient a repellent contains, the longer the time the repellent will be effective.
- Spray insect repellent on the outside of your clothes. Mosquitoes can bite through thin clothing.
- Do not spray insect repellent on skin that is under clothing.
- Insect repellents should not be used on young infants.
- Do not spray aerosol or pump products in enclosed areas or directly on your face. Avoid getting insect repellent in your eyes or mouth, as well as cuts, wounds, or irritated skin.
- If working outdoors, use soap and water to wash skin and clothing that has been treated with insect repellent.
For those who wonder why they are often the first ones in a group to be bitten, it comes down to chemistry, Lara said.
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"There's a lot of theory about this, but it has to do with body odor, sweat and carbon dioxide levels. Mosquitoes sense it and gravitate toward it."
Meanwhile, although the recent rains have been good for the environment, Lara warns, "about five to seven days after each rain event, expect to see a huge growth of mosquitoes."
For more information on vector control, visit the website.
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