North Carolina Mosquito Control

June 9th, 2011

Skeeter season: How to beat those pesky bugs

By Michael Futch

Attention, grillers, gardeners and anyone else who enjoys being outside this time of year: Expect your outdoor time to be interrupted by the pesky mosquito.

“With the kind of rainfall we’ve had this year, we’re going to have a bad season,” said Charles Apperson, an entomologist at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. “Having the kind of medium and heavy rains intermediately really is ideal for the production of mosquitoes.”

If there’s no rain, Apperson said, there are no problems with these dive-bombing pests.

But when there’s just a little rainfall every week or so, empty containers scattered outside homes and apartments will fill with water.

Locally, the mosquitoes that bother people are those that lay their eggs in wet containers, he said. That can be old tires, buckets, birdbaths, tarps, potted plants with saucers underneath, even knotholes in trees.

“It’s a little bit early yet,” Apperson said of the traditional mosquito season. “You usually see them in large numbers toward the end of May and early June. The peak is July and August.”

That brings on large crops of these winged insects, and the potential for mosquito-borne diseases.

Funding for mosquito control in Cumberland County, which reached $95,436 as recently as 2007, has not been available over the past couple of years. The last time the Cumberland County Public Health Department sprayed for mosquitoes was June 2009.

County commissioners eliminated that funding.

There’s no money in this year’s budget for widespread mosquito control, sapd Sally Shutt, a spokeswoman for Cumberland County.

Vern Davis is technical director for Terminex of North Carolina, which has an office in Fayetteville. Like a few other businesses, Terminex does offer mosquito treatments in some residential communities.

“We’ve not seen an awful lot of calls,” Davis said. “Customers have sprinkling systems that put out water routinely. If anything collects water, certainly it will facilitate mosquito breeding. It only takes a few days. It only takes a vessel as small as a cap of a bottled drink to raise a brood of mosquitoes.”

Fighting mosquitoes

Installing and maintaining tight-fitting screens on doors and windows will help keep mosquitoes out of the home.

Outdoor foggers will keep mosquitoes away for several hours, but once the chemical dissipates, mosquitoes may return. Spraying thickets or shrubs along the perimeter of the yard helps reduce the population of mosquitoes that rest in these areas.

Eliminating breeding sites is the only long-term solution to severe mosquito problems. Homeowners wanting to treat small areas, such as bird baths and garden pools, might want to try bacterial insecticides that are available at many retail stores, garden centers and online garden suppliers.

N.C. State entomologist Charles Apperson recommends using the biological pest control product Mosquito Dunks to kill mosquito larvae in ornamental fish ponds (with no fish in them), bird baths and standing water. “They are very safe to use around people, pets and wildlife,” he said. “Break those up, and put them in whatever you want to control. It will control the larvae for a long time.”

Keep your skin covered while outside. When the weather turns too warm for that, use a commercially available insect repellent with a moderate formation of 15 to 20 percent, Apperson said. Do not overapply and do not apply directly to a child’s face. Use about once every two to three hours.

Source: Department of Entomology at N.C. State University

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