By Lisa Richards, Fisheries and Wildlife Biologist
Every summer it happens: you go outside for a nice day and you end up a victim to mosquitoes. They are annoying pests and also carry deadly diseases. Fortunately, there are precautions and steps you can take to protect yourself from these nuisances.
The Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) causes the most complaints of all mosquito breeds in the mid-Atlantic. Every year, thousands of calls are made to state and local agencies about mosquito issues. Nearby lakes, ponds, streams, and drains are usually blamed for the cause; however, Asian tiger mosquitoes do not breed in bodies of water with natural soil. Instead, they breed in artificial containers. They also have a limited flying radius of only about 200 yards, so if you are bitten by this type of mosquito, check your yard or porch for standing water in containers such as flower pots, corrugated plastic drainage hoses, bird baths and tree holes. By simply emptying the stagnant water, you are eliminating the breeding ground this mosquito requires. Asian tiger mosquitoes can carry several diseases, specifically West Nile. Keeping your yard and surroundings clear of breeding containers is an easy and important step to protect yourself.
Other species of mosquitoes do utilize lakes and ponds for breeding. Water bodies should be properly managed to help with mosquito control. Warm, stagnant water is an ideal place for mosquito breeding. Aeration in a pond can help to manage water temperatures and keep the water circulating. Overgrown vegetation around lakes and ponds can provide shade for mosquito larvae to hide in, so vegetative buffers should be trimmed and managed. Many fish and amphibians consume mosquito larvae as part of their regular diet. Stocking minnows is another natural way to keep the mosquito population under control. Finally, certain aquatic plants, such as cattails, provide a resting area for adult mosquitoes and should also be managed or removed.
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