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Bite-free zone

Newport News, Va.

Rainy weather in many parts of the country has invited unwanted guests — mosquitoes.

Before you can swat them, they drink like miniature vampires, leaving swollen bites that itch like the dickens.

There are more than 3,000 different species of mosquitoes worldwide, with 176 types thriving in the United States, according to the American Mosquito Control Association — www.mosquito.org. A mosquito’s main food is nectar or a similar sugar source, so they can be classified as pollinators — just not the good kind for people because they leave bites that swell, redden and itch like the dickens.

The bite of a mosquito can also spread disease, which in Massachusetts includes West Nile virus and eastern equine encephalitis.

Mosquito control experts say the best way to keep mosquito populations down is to restrict their breeding sites, which are pools of standing water.

“In warm weather, mosquitoes can develop from eggs to adults in a little more than a week in just a few ounces of standing water,” said mosquito control expert Jonathan Cohen with Summit Industries. The company makes Mosquito Dunks which contain B.t.i. (Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis), a bacterium that naturally kills mosquito larvae but is harmless to other living things.

“It’s important to empty out birdbaths, pot saucers, kids’ swimming pools and unclog rain gutters to reduce the areas where mosquitoes can lay eggs.”

To reduce mosquito populations, experts recommend:

∎ Drain water from garbage cans, house gutters, buckets, pool covers, coolers, flower pots or any other containers where water has collected.

∎ Remove and discard old tires, drums, bottles, cans, pots and pans, broken appliances and other items left outdoors that can collect water.

∎ Empty and clean birdbaths and pet water bowls at least once or twice a week.

∎ Protect boats and vehicles from rain with tarps that won’t hold water — not even spoonfuls.

∎ Maintain swimming pools in good condition with appropriate chlorination. Empty the water from children’s swimming pools when not in use.

For added control, including ponds, bird baths, fountains, drain lines and ditches, treat water with Mosquito Dunks and Mosquito Bits that contain Bti. The dunks will not harm wildlife, including songbirds, as well as pets and fish, according to Summit Industries. One dunk treats up to 100 square feet of surface water for up to 30 days. You’ll find the dunks at garden centers, hardware stores and home centers nationwide.

Also, don’t forget that clothing is an excellent barrier between you and a mosquito, says Cohen. Wear clothing that will protect more of your body, such as long-sleeved shirts and long pants, especially during the evening hours.

Learn more about Mosquito Dunks at www.summitresponsiblesolutions.com.

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MOSQUITO TRIVIA

-Mosquitoes find hosts by sight - they observe movement - by detecting infra-red radiation emitted by warm bodies; and by chemical signals (mosquitoes are attracted to carbon dioxide and lactic acid, among other chemicals) at distances of 25-35 meters.

-Dark clothing can attract some species of mosquitoes more than lighter-colored clothing.

-Salt marsh mosquitoes will fly up to 40 miles for a meal.

Source: American Mosquito Control Association - www.mosquito.org

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(Follow Kathy Van Mullekom at FacebookKathy Hogan Van Mullekom, Twitterdiggindirt and Pinterestdigginin; on her blog,DigginRoomandYard.com, or email her at kvanmullekomaol.com.)

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©2013 Daily Press (Newport News, Va.)

Visit the Daily Press (Newport News, Va.) at www.dailypress.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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Topics: t000002829,t000002828,t000002827,t000412385

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