This year’s mild winter and warm weather has been nice. But it could mean a big mosquito season’s ahead. Here’s what you should know about mosquitoes, illnesses and how to protect yourself and your pets from bites. Spraying for mosquitos may not be your best answer. Joe Conlon, technical adviser for the American Mosquito Control Association, said a downside of the spray is that it kills other bugs, too, such as ladybugs.

Mosquito facts

  • Mosquitoes breed when temperatures are consistently over 50 degrees.
  • Only female mosquitoes bite.
  • Female mosquitoes only bite when they need to lay eggs.
  • At other times, mosquitoes just feed on plant juices and have a small role in pollination.
  • The largest species of mosquitoes doesn’t bite at all.
  • The itchy bumps from mosquito bites are allergic reactions to the insect’s saliva.
  • A full moon increased mosquito activity 500 percent in one study, according to the American Mosquito Control Association.
  • Mosquitoes are attracted to carbon dioxide and lactic acid.
  • Bigger people are often more attractive to mosquitoes because they tend to produce more CO2 and lactic acid.
  • Some mosquitoes only travel up to 100 yards. Other species can fly up to two to five miles.

Source: American Mosquito Control Association

Yes, it’s true, mosquitoes can ‘like you’

Conlon, of the American Mosquito Control Association, said each person’s body puts off 300 compounds in different combinations. Some of those compounds are more attractive to mosquitoes than others. People with more compounds attractive to mosquitoes tend to get more mosquito bites. “The combinations of those (compounds) are how your dog knows who you are,” he said. “Mosquitoes are honed in on that also.” He said the compound combinations depend on a person’s metabolism, the way someone metabolizes food and the way bacteria on their skin metabolizes oily secretions. And it’s genetic. “There are people that are genetically less attractive to mosquitoes,” Conlon said.

Treating mosquito bites

Anti-itch lotion, like calamine lotion, will help with mosquito bites. That’s the main symptom to treat. Some people just innately react more violently to bites than others. If a person is bitten by a mosquito that carries West Nile, the bite is not going to look or feel different than other bites, so a bite reaction is not an indication of disease.

What to do on your property’s landscaping:

Mosquitoes breed in water, and it doesn’t take much. Even something as small as a bottle top can host a breeding site. The less mosquitoes breed, the less mosquitoes bite. “Doing what you can on your property, as a citizen, is really important,” said Ingrid Garrison, state public health veterinarian for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

To prevent breeding:
▪ Replace water in pet dishes and bird baths every three days
▪ Dump water from plant saucers every three days
▪ Clear roof gutters of debris
▪ Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers
▪ Dump water from children’s play toys
▪ Make sure tarps are pulled tight, so as not to collect water
▪ Repair leaky outdoor faucets
▪ Dump water from old tires
▪ Plug tree holes
▪ Keep shrubs, trees and grass well trimmed and remove weeds. (This helps remove shady, wet areas.)

To prevent biting:

▪ Use bug lights on patios. The lights emit a yellow light that doesn’t repel mosquitoes, but doesn’t attract them either.
▪ Use floor fans on patios to provide a stiff breeze. Mosquitoes have a difficult time flying through and against wind. The fan also dissipates odors that attract mosquitoes.
▪ Make sure home windows are screened, doors properly sealed and vents are properly shut to keep mosquitoes from getting inside.

▪ Screens can be repaired with silicone caulk or screen patches and doors with weather stripping.

Source: American Mosquito Control Association

One in five people who get West Nile will have a fever and some other symptoms, but will get better, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Less than 1 percent of people become seriously ill and die. The species of mosquitoes that carry West Nile — called Culex mosquitoes — are the most common type of mosquitoes caught in most county traps. But that could be because the traps are designed specifically to catch the kind of mosquitoes that carry West Nile.

The second most-common type of mosquitoes caught in the county’s traps are the species that can carry Zika virus. Zika virus could spread to all the Americas. The mosquito-borne disease has raged in South America and other regions for months. The World

For help with making your Landscaping less friendly to mosquitoes, please contact us at Empire Landscaping today.