Mosquitos With West Nile Virus Are Back in Darien: How to Give Them the Cold Shoulder (Without Getting It Bitten)

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Mosquitos that have West Nile Virus have been found in Darien and six other communities in the state, according to the state Department of Health, which tests for the virus regularly.

In an announcement about the state test results, Darien Department of Health said there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy the summer outside if you protect yourself and your family from mosquitoes that can cause illnesses, including West Nile virus (WNV), Eastern equine encephalitis virus (EEE) and ZIKA.

Here’s what the department said in the announcement, including tips to protect yourself:

They’re Here, With West Nile Virus

As it does every year, the State of Connecticut Mosquito Management Program is monitoring mosquitoes for the presence of those viruses,.

mosquito https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Aedes_aegypti_biting_human.jpg

Mosquito

Aedes Aegyptae biting a human (U.S. Agriculture Dept. photo, via Wikimedia Commons)

As of today, July 18, 2018, DPH has announced that mosquitoes positive for West Nile Virus have been found in Darien and six other communities in Connecticut. It is important to note that NO cases of West Nile Disease have been diagnosed in Connecticut residents thus far this year.

The mosquito trapping and testing program, coordinated by the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES), began in June and continues through October.

Monitoring for mosquito-borne illnesses utilizes mosquito trapping and testing results. The CAES maintains a network of 91 mosquito-trapping stations in 72 municipalities throughout the state with two traps located in Darien.

Mosquito trapping is conducted at each site every ten days on a rotating basis.
Mosquitoes are grouped (pooled) for testing according to species, collection site, and date.

Test results are available approximately one week after mosquito collection and positive results are reported to local health departments by the State Department of Public Health (DPH).

Protect Yourself From Mosquitoes

To reduce the chance of being bitten when outside, wear protective clothing such as long sleeves, long pants and head cover. Light-colored, loose-fitting clothing is preferable
because dark clothing radiates more heat and attracts more mosquitoes.

Aedes Mosquito

Aedes mosquito (Photo by Danny Steaven on Wikimedia Commons_

Insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus can be used by most people and are often effective for varying lengths of time.

Permethrin, a synthetic pyrethroid that is widely available for repelling and killing ticks, also repels and kills mosquitoes. It is applied to clothing and provides longer-lasting protection. Do not apply permethrin products directly to skin.

Although not marketed as repellents, there are several cosmetic liquids and creams that claim some level of mosquito repellency. These products may effectively repel when mosquito pressure is light, but need to be reapplied frequently.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency provides further information on the use and effective use of repellants.

How to Make Mosquitos Unwelcome on Your Property

You can help with managing the mosquito “problem” but you need to realize that part of
what makes this area so pleasant for us is what encourages the mosquitoes to be here as well — and that is the presence of water.

One of the easiest and surest ways to manage mosquitoes around the home is to eliminate standing water where mosquitoes can lay eggs. Mosquitoes need at least 7 to 10 days in water to fully develop.

Some common sources of mosquitoes around the home are:

  • Artificial containers that hold water (e.g., pails, paint cans, discarded tires)
  • Boat or pool covers or tarps that collect rain water
  • Unmaintained bird baths or wading pools
  • Rain barrels and clogged roof gutters
  • Rot holes in trees and stumps

Practice good sanitation around the home. Homeowners should properly dispose of or recycle trash, which can hold rainwater.

Make it a practice to flush bird baths and wading pools weekly.

Swimming pool filtering systems should be maintained and in good working order. Abandoned pools should be drained, filled or “shocked” with pool chemicals. Openings for standing water sources, such as rain barrels, can be sealed or covered with screening.

Alvesgaspar Mosquito Picture

Picture by user Alvesgaspar on Wikimedia Commons. Caption there: “A female mosquito of the Culicidae family (Culiseta longiareolata). Size: about 10mm length”

Rotten stumps and tree holes can be filled with sand. Discarded tires should be disposed of properly, holes (0.5 inches or larger) can be drilled in the bottom of the tires to drain rainwater or the tires can be stacked and covered to prevent rainwater from
entering.

Ornamental pools and aquatic gardens can become sources of mosquitoes if the water is allowed to stagnate. Water should be changed frequently or an aerator can be installed.

Homeowners can practice their own biological control by stocking minnows, such as Gambusia, koi or guppies, which will eat mosquito larvae. The fish will need to be brought indoors for the winter or restocked annually because they will not survive Connecticut winters.

Large pond stocking with non-native fish or releasing fish into public waters is prohibited. Insecticides, such as those containing the bacteria Bacillus thurgiensis var. israelensis (Bti), are available at many nurseries and garden supply centers and can be used to treat mosquito breeding sites on your property.

In general, natural ponds and lakes are not sources of mosquito breeding, because permanent bodies of water usually contain fish and other predators that would consume mosquito larvae.

US Govt drawing black salt marsh mosquito

U.S. government image, via Wikipedia

Drawing of a female Ochlerotatus taeniorhynchus (syn. Aedes taeniorhynchus) (Culicidae), the Black Salt Marsh Mosquito.

Other Ways to Avoid Mosquitoes

There are also ways homeowners can minimize the annoyance caused by adult mosquitoes. Mosquitoes prefer to rest in shady, calm areas and will avoid more open sunny, breezy areas.

Mowing tall grass will reduce places where mosquitoes can rest.

Mosquitoes are most active around dawn and dusk although some, such as the common salt marsh mosquito, may be active throughout the day or may be more active
during cloudy, humid weather.

Simply avoiding outdoor activity during these peak mosquito times can minimize contact with mosquitoes.

And don’t forget the sunscreen!

For More Information

Centers for Disease Control

Connecticut Department of Public Health

Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station

Connecticut Mosquito Management Program

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