STATE – “Entomologists tell us that mosquitoes have been around for more than thirty million years,” says Leonard Douglen, the Executive Director of the New Jersey Pest Management Association. “That’s reason enough to take them seriously, not just for their annoying bites, but as transmitters of several serious diseases.”
As far back as the early 1900s, New Jersey took mosquitoes seriously as word began to spread that they were the source of Yellow Fever and, later, diseases that included Malaria, Dengue Fever, and Encephalitis.
“The outbreak of West Nile Fever in 1990 reawakened public awareness of the need for effective mosquito control,” said Douglen. “It has spread to forty-six states since then where reports of West Nile Fever have been verified. In 2007, it was responsible for 115 deaths according the Centers for Disease Control.” It is a form of Encephalitis.
“In 1956, New Jersey established the State Mosquito Control Commission,” said Douglen. It is located at the Department of Environmental Protection. “NJPMA has worked closely with DEP since its inception,” said Douglen, noting that all pest management professionals are licensed and certified by the DEP.
To prevent major outbreaks of mosquito populations, the Mosquito Control Commission maintains a Mosquito Airspray Program. It reviews municipal and county mosquito control programs to ensure they are in compliance with state and federal regulations and policies.
“It should be everyone’s policy to take steps to ensure that mosquitoes cannot breed around their home,” said Douglen. Since mosquitoes breed wherever water can gather, he offered the following steps that should be taken:
Roof gutters should be cleaned annually because leaves from nearby trees can clog them. They should be checked in the spring or whenever one encounters too many mosquitoes because they can produce millions each season.
Turn over wading pools when they are not in use. Clean and chlorinate swimming pools that are not being used. Mosquitoes can breed in the water that collects on swimming pool covers.
Aerate ornamental pools or stock them with fish. Water gardens, if allowed to stagnate, can produce large mosquito populations during the spring and summer months. Change the water in bird baths every three or four days.
Dispose of ceramic pots, plastic containers, and anything that can contain water. Drill holes in the bottom of outdoor recycling containers left out of doors. Rid your property of discarded tires, tin cans, and plastic containers where water can gather..
Examine your property for areas where puddles can gather after a rain storm. Use landscaping to eliminate standing water. Mosquitoes can breed in any puddle that lasts more than four days.
To avoid mosquitoes getting indoors, check window and door screens. Make necessary repairs.
“On a personal level,” said Douglen, “it’s a wise idea to wear mosquito repellants if you or a child spends time outdoors. These products contain DEET with different levels, but keep in mind children should be protected at lower levels.”
“Clothing provides good protection,” says Douglen, “but a quick spray with a repellant will provide even more.
“Million of years have created several species of mosquitoes,” Douglen noted, “but all come equipped with chemical, visual, and heat sensors to find a blood meal. The fact that humans exhale carbon dioxide and sweat provides mosquitoes with the means to find them. Just moving around is enough to attract them and, since we are warm-blooded, they can find us if they get close enough.”
Douglen advises against spraying over-the-counter pesticides too much. “Pest management professionals routinely use as little pesticide as necessary to eliminate a pest population, but people tend to use far too much and to do so indiscriminately to rid themselves of even a single insect pest. Less is best.”
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