April - May - June 2015

Mosquito Control (p.28)
Tips For Keeping Those Pesky Biting Pests At Bay

By Margarita Cohen

"Here comes the sun... and I say, it's all right!" As George Harrison wrote in one of my favorite Beatles songs, "'s been a long, cold, lonely winter." This winter, we got hit particularly hard by an arctic blast that delivered frigid temperatures, piles of snow, and icy roads that created hazardous driving conditions.

"Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting..." But at last, spring is here, the weather is warmer, and the days are longer. This means that our kids will be spending more time outside and we can once again enjoy activities like gardening, swimming, and grilling out.

While warm weather does bring greater opportunity for outdoor enjoyment, it also brings back our old friend, the mosquito. If you were hoping that the unusually cold weather we had this winter might have helped rid us of those annoying pests, think again. Mosquitoes do disappear when cold weather comes, but they leave their eggs behind – creating another generation ready to hatch with the spring rains and warmer weather.

In last year's summer issue of CIRCA, I discussed the health risks mosquitoes bring. Since April is Mosquito Awareness Month in North Carolina, I thought a brief review would be worthwhile.

Mosquitoes are carriers of many diseases, causing over one million deaths worldwide. Malaria, yellow fever, dengue fever, and filariasis are some of the most common diseases mosquitos carry. These diseases occur overseas, and are not currently spread by mosquitoes in North Carolina. Rather, there are primarily three viruses carried by mosquitoes to people in our state – Eastern Equine, La Crosse, and West Nile. In some cases, the illnesses caused by these viruses may be severe and can result in encephalitis or death. Heartworm is a common disease of dogs carried by mosquitoes.

Recently, I have been getting a lot of questions about Chikungunya, an illness caused by a virus that spreads through mosquito bites. The most common symptoms are fever and joint pain; other symptoms may include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling, or rash. Although 10 cases of Chikungunya were reported in North Carolina last year, they were all believed to have been acquired outside of the United States. Thus far, there are have been no reports of the virus being acquired in our country.

Even without the potential diseases mosquitoes carry, we still avoid them for a very simple reason – they can be a real pain in the neck. These uninvited guests can drive our kids inside, spoil our parties, and just plain take the fun out of our backyards.

But there is good news. By learning how to control mosquitoes and other pests with effective prevention techniques, you can reduce your family's exposure to mosquitoes. Many times the mosquitoes that are a problem to homeowners result from breeding sites in their own backyards. If you can eliminate them, you can reduce your yard's population of mosquitoes. Since they need water to breed, getting rid of standing water is the key to effective mosquito control.

Following are some handy tips that can really make a difference in ridding your yard of those pesky biting pests.
– Dump excess water from items like kids' toys, baby pools, candles, ashtrays, wheelbarrows, and flowerpot dishes. Where possible, turn these items over to avoid them again filling with rainwater. Clean out birdbaths regularly.
– Throw away old bottles, cans, and plastic containers.
– Screen or cover rain barrels, garbage cans, large containers, and the open ends of corrugated plastic drainage pipes.
– Clean leaf-filled gutters to allow for proper drainage.
– Address yard drainage to eliminate water pooling in lower areas.
– Treat ponds and pools with a child, pet, and fish-safe larvacide to prevent mosquito eggs from hatching.
– In order to breed, most species of mosquitoes need water to stand for three to 10 days, so perform a quick walk-through of your yard after it rains.

Mosquitoes haven't survived for millions of years by being anything less than determined. Even the best preventive measures probably won't avert all bites; so in the case of a normal reaction, a hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion will provide relief from itching. A cold pack or ice cubes may help to relieve symptoms as well. For more serious allergic reactions:
– Take oral antihistamines (such as Benadryl or Claritin);
– Use topical anti-itch lotion or athlete's foot spray;
– For hives, take a cool bath without soap or place ice cubes on itchy areas for 10 minutes;
– People who experience severe allergic reactions should immediately consult a physician.

In addition to these recommendations, there are many home remedies that I have found on the Internet. For links to some of those, visit my website at

"Sun, sun, sun, here it comes..." Summer is supposed to be fun, and hopefully these tips can help reduce the amount of mosquitoes visiting your yard, making the outdoors fun again.

Margarita Cohen is the owner of Mosquito Joe, providing mosquito control treatments to the greater Wake Forest area. For more information or to schedule an appointment for treatment, visit or call 919-926-8851.



Read next article.