Spring Begins Annual Battle Against Mosquitoes

ELIZABETH—The county is enlisting residents in the annual war against the mosquito population. The county has several programs to manage mosquitoes, and residents are being asked to join the fight. There are about 20 different species of mosquitoes in Union County. Included in this group is the Asian tiger mosquito.

“Recently the tiger mosquito has become a significant pest in Union County,” said Freeholder Chairman Angel G. Estrada. “This is a very quick biting and aggressive species that can survive in a broad range of climates and conditions. They seem very adaptable.”

The Asian tiger mosquito or forest day mosquito is for the most part an urban nuisance. It is characterized by its black and white striped legs, and small black and white body. This species flies in swarms, strikes both day and night, and traditionally takes residence in urban areas. It finds small amounts of water and containers particularly appealing for breeding and is difficult to eradicate.

The Union County Bureau of Mosquito Control conducts surveillance from March to November, seeking out potential breeding spots. Once the warm weather sets in, urban backyards, suburban neighborhoods, nature refuges and industrial areas can all provide breeding grounds.

“The most effective way to control the mosquito population and reduce the risk of disease is to eliminate breeding areas,” Chairman Estrada said. “By frequently checking our yards and neighborhoods for breeding spots and eliminating them, we can all help keep the mosquito population low.”

Overlooked problem areas such as back yard swimming pools and pool covers should be checked regularly. Other problem areas include chronic ponding in yards, as well as in wooded areas. Discarded tires and plastic buckets also provide some of the most ideal breeding spots.

In all species of mosquito, the female needs a miniscule amount of standing water in which to breed. The eggs hatch into larvae, which develop into mosquitoes in about two weeks.

Residents can significantly reduce the mosquito population if they:

• Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, and remove water that collects on pool covers.

• Dispose of cans and plastic containers, and turn over empty flower pots, toys, and any object that can hold even small amounts of water.

• Remove old tires, a favorite breeding place for mosquitoes.

• To prevent trash cans and recycling containers from collecting water, keep tight lids on them, drill holes in the bottom, or store in an enclosed space.

• Clean roof gutters regularly.

• Empty out plastic wading pools at least every three days.

• Turn over wheelbarrows.

• Change water in birdbaths every three days.

• In landscaping, fill in low areas where water collects.

• Drain and clean out grills and grill covers.

• If ornamental ponds and fountains are in use, ensure that the water is constantly circulating. Also stock the pond with larvae eating fish such as minnows, goldfish and mosquito fish.

The Bureau also collects mosquitoes from 30 New Jersey Light traps throughout Union County, allowing the Bureau to identify places where mosquitoes are breeding rapidly and target them for larviciding. Samples from the traps are sent to a state laboratory and checked for disease.

Union County residents are urged to call the Bureau of Mosquito Control at (908) 654-9834 to report possible mosquito breeding areas in their communities. Residents with questions regarding mosquito problems on their property can receive a free inspection from the Bureau.

The Bureau answers all calls within 24 hours. To ensure a return call residents must leave their name and phone number, including area code.

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