It had been a dry and hot summer, which meant few breeding opportunities for pesky mosquitoes. Recent heavy thunderstorms, however, have marked a return of these biting pests in many Johnson City neighborhoods. And while most Americans consider mosquitoes to be nothing more than a nuisance, they do pose a real public health threat that can prove deadly for some.
The Environmental Protection Agency says mosquito-borne diseases affect millions of people worldwide each year. Some species of mosquitoes can transmit diseases such as dengue fever and malaria to humans, as well as a variety of diseases to wildlife and domestic animals.
You can take steps to control the mosquito population on your property by eliminating breeding habitats for the insects. That means getting rid of any standing water around the home, including water in potted plant dishes, garbage cans, old tires and wading pools. It’s important to remember mosquitoes can breed in any puddle that lasts more than four days.
In fact, as little as a thimble full of water can serve as a nursery for baby mosquitoes. That’s why homeowners should keep drains, ditches and culverts clear of weeds and trash. Doing so reduces the breeding opportunities for these pesky visitors.
The number of reported cases of West Nile virus, which is one of the diseases transmitted through mosquito bites, has declined in recent years, thanks in part to the efforts of Johnson City and other local governments to step up the use of chemical and biological pesticides to control the mosquito population.
The EPA says that in general people do not need to relocate during mosquito spraying because the pesticides used by local governments have been certified by the agency to be safe to humans and the environment when used correctly. Even so, some people may prefer to avoid or minimize their exposure to these sprays. For those people, the EPA recommends that people who suffer from chemical sensitivities or feel spraying may aggravate existing health problems should consult their physicians or local health departments and take special measures to avoid exposure.
Residents should always close their windows and turn off window unit air conditioners when spraying is taking place. It’s also important to prevent children from playing near or behind truck-mounted applicators when they are in use.
And remember: Most cities don’t spray for mosquitoes until after sundown.