Just when you thought you were alone in your car when driving across town, you aren’t.
According to Harry Stamps, manager at John Moore and expert in pest control treatment management, it’s quite common for mosquitoes to hitch a ride with you. If you’ve been reading and watching the local news, then you know why this little detail is pretty important for Houstonians right now.
Harris County mosquito control reported earlier this month that this is the worst year on record for the West Nile virus, and that out of 268 spots tested throughout Harris County, only 32 had no mosquitoes carrying the potentially deadly West Nile virus. So if they grab a free ride with you, chances are they are getting transported all across the city with thousands of other Houstonians right this very second.
“I tell everyone I know that mosquitoes fly, and people carry them to all parts of town,” Stamps said. “They hitch rides on vehicles and on freight. So just because they found them in Sugar Land and not some other part of town doesn’t mean they aren’t on their way to your area.”
The good news is that the situation isn’t hopeless. You definitely can do things to help prevent getting bit or prevent an infestation. Sorry to break it to you, but there is no way you can absolutely stay bite-free unless you stay inside or wrap yourself in a bubble. The best you can do is follow the advice of a professional and stay aware of what is going on around you. West Nile is a real virus that can be potentially fatal, so taking the time to assess your surrounding and adjust is how you keep you and your family safe. Read on to know what Stamps is saying about our airborne “friends” (yeah, right).
Houston Mosquito Misting
If you want to get your yard treated to help the fight against Houston’s West Nile carrying pests, calling John Moore to send out a professional is one way to go.
“There is a misting treatment we can do,” Stamps said. “We come out and mist all your trees and bedding areas. This helps, but keep in mind that it takes 8 to 10 days for mosquitoes to go from egg to adult in moist and warm locations, so it’s fast. Houston is the perfect place for them, really.”
What on earth does Stamps mean? Basically, although a professional mosquitoes misting treatment is highly effective and should be considered, it’s important that homeowners realize how quickly mosquitoes come out into the world and start biting. It’s a fast process- less than two weeks- for mosquitoes to lay hundreds of eggs which turn into hundreds of mosquitoes. As you read, you will learn that prevention is only as good as how much you contribute to the process as well before and after calling in the big guns at John Moore.
Wear Mosquito Repellent
For some of you, this might be a no-brainer. Buy the spray or the wipes and bam, you’re good. For others, spraying some chemically smelling stuff directly on your skin isn’t the most appealing option. It all depends on what you prefer.
Spray: Many sprays contain DEET, which is a highly effective insect repellent and has been in public use since 1957. The repellent is sold under numerous brand names and comes in lotion, spray and many other forms. Picaridin is also effective, and is an alternative to DEET products which provides long-lasting protection. Compared to DEET, Picaridin is pretty much odorless, doesn’t cause skin irritation, and has no adverse effect on plastics.
Candles: A citronella candle emits the odor of citronella, which repels mosquitoes. In areas of limited air movement, the citronella can definitely keep mosquitoes away. However, according to studies at North Dakota University, the candles and other citronella-emitting products have shown to be ineffective in open areas.
Natural Repellent: Oil of lemon eucalyptus is one repellent found naturally in eucalyptus leaves and twigs and was found to provide protection similar to repellents with low concentrations of DEET. Other natural remedies include repellents that are derived from plants such as citronella, geranium, basil, garlic and peppermint. These generally provide much more limited protection against mosquitoes. Studies with products containing a mixture of plant oils such as citronella, lavender, peppermint, calendula, soy and tea tree oils have shown a limited effect, repelling mosquitoes for only about two hours. There are also topical products containing oil of citronella that can offer mild protection against mosquitoes.
“There isn’t one product on the market I’d push over the other,” Stamps said. “It’s just about your personal preference and using the one that you find works best for you.”
Places That Hold Standing Water
According to Stamps, the only thing you can do to prevent infestation besides getting professional intervention is analyzing your yard. Are there areas where water is being held and not moving? If so, listen up.
Make sure that you don’t have any areas in your yard that have conditions that are favorable for mosquitoes. Over watering plants is one situation that can cause you to have more mosquitoes. Also, sprinkler systems that allow water to accumulate and form puddles create an ideal environment for breeding. Anything in your yard that is holding water, like old tires, bird baths, and dips in the ground where water tends to accumulate are places where mosquitoes love to nest in. Houston is still warm and wet these days, so make sure to fix these issues as soon as possible.
“As professionals, we deal with pest management to keep you from having an infestation,” Stamps said. “But you can’t eliminate mosquitoes because they fly. All you can do as a homeowner is help control the numbers.”
So Houston, we definitely have a problem. The mosquitoes are everywhere and you are itching and scratching like nobody’s business. The experts are telling us that the West Nile virus is in our city, and you swear you can hear them buzzing around at night while you sleep. However, you can now take this head on with fresh insight on what you can do to help keep you, your family, and your entire community the safest it can be.