Annoying and relentless biters, female mosquitoes have a knack for spoiling the time we spend outdoors. From early spring to late fall, our outdoor activities put us in direct contact with mosquitoes. Different species of mosquito feed at varying times of the day and evening, assuring our risk of exposure to these seemingly ravenous pests. When a female mosquito bites, she injects a salivary fluid into the skin of her host. If that mosquito has previously bit an infected bird, it is possible it can infect its host with a number of different viruses. While not all mosquitoes in Vanderburgh County are disease vectors, some species are.
The Vanderburgh County Health Department’s Vector Control Program works to reduce populations of both nuisance and disease carrying mosquitoes throughout the county.
This page is dedicated to providing you with the information you’ll need to keep you and your family safe this mosquito season.
Viruses that mosquitoes have been found to carry in the United States:
- Eastern equine encephalitis
- Japanese encephalitis
- La Crosse encephalitis
- St. Louis encephalitis
- West Nile virus
The First Steps in Prevention: Surveillance/Habitat Elimination
Take these steps to make sure you aren’t raising future generations of mosquitoes!
|Check your yard for standing water. Mosquitoes need water to reproduce. They lay their eggs either directly in water or on the dry vegetation in and around areas where, after a rain event, water accumulates. Depending on environmental conditions the eggs can hatch within 24 hours. The mosquito will spend its first few days in the water developing from larvae to pupa until finally it is ready to emerge as an adult. Within a few hours the newly emerged adult will be ready to find a blood source. If there are locations or objects around your property where water can collect and stand you may be raising mosquitoes. Keep in mind that mosquitoes don’t necessarily need a lot of water to develop. Even a discarded soda can fill with water and easily produce up to 20 dozen larvae. Keep containers like buckets or tires turned over or stored out of the weather to prevent them from collecting water where mosquitoes can develop.||
The image above from the CDC shows how mosquito larvae breathe by attaching themselves to the surface of the water. Mosquito larvae vary in color, shape and size.
The following list provides some prime mosquito breeding habitats. Take the necessary precautions to ensure that these areas do not provide mosquitoes a place to breed in your yard.
- Old tires: All old tires without rims should be stored out of the weather. Tires collecting water are a prime breeding site for the aggressive Asian Tiger mosquito. If you have unused tires in your yard, remember that Vanderburgh County usually has a tire amnesty day twice a year.
- Clogged gutters: Make an effort to clean your gutters in the spring and late fall.
- Flower pots: Some flower pots sit in a “plate” to prevent water from trickling from the actual container. These “plates” are commonly overlooked as places where mosquitoes breed.
- Buckets and other yard “clutter” that may hold water like trash and debris or children’s toys are places where we commonly find mosquito larvae. Be mindful of any clutter in your yard that could collect water and take the necessary steps to remove all of these potential breeding receptacles.
- Low grassy areas: Vector Control has a large list of areas that it maintains throughout Vanderburgh County. Areas where water collects and stands for more than 24 hours are treated with larvicide oil applications and are rechecked until the standing water from each site has dried. If you know of an area where water stands for more than 24 hours after a rain event, please contact the Vanderburgh County Health Department.
- Bird baths: Change the water in your bird baths daily.
- Unmaintained swimming pools especially the smaller plastic “kiddie pools” are excellent places for mosquitoes to breed. Make sure they are stored out of the weather when they aren’t being used. For full sized pools that are not being used, make sure the pool is covered with a tarp and that any water in the pool has been treated with the appropriate chemicals. Even if it is vacant, do not attempt to treat a neighbor’s unmaintained pool with chemicals. Contact the Vanderburgh Health Department and we will take the appropriate steps to resolve any issues we find.
- Inflatable pools: Once deflated, these pools are still capable of holding water. Take steps to ensure that once these pools are no longer in use, they are disposed of properly.
- Garden Ponds: If you own a small garden-type water fountain or pond, make sure it is being maintained. Ensure that the water is continuously circulated or add fish to your garden pond to minimize the risk of your pond harboring mosquitoes. If you, for whatever reason, are unable to maintain your pond, there are products available, that when used properly, can be used to treat any mosquito larvae your pond may be attracting. These products are usually available where you purchase any other water garden materials. As with all pesticides, follow directions on the label to ensure safety and efficiency.
- Trash Receptacles: Make sure trash cans are covered. Punch holes in their bottoms to prevent them from filling with water.
- Eaves Troughs: Keep all natural drainage areas in your yard clear of leaves or grass clippings. Flowing water is not a successful environment for mosquito larvae. Do not attempt to fill low areas or drainage ditches with grass clippings or other organic material. Doing so only enhances the environment for mosquito larvae to thrive.
Remember, if you have areas of standing (non-flowing), stagnant water on your property and you think you may be raising mosquitoes; please call the Vector Control office to set up an appointment. We will inspect, and in some cases treat, areas of standing water where mosquito larvae are present.
Insect Repellant and Other Methods of Personal Protection: Recommended Steps You Can Take to Avoid Being Bitten
- Avoid peak mosquito feeding periods, at dawn and at dusk.
- Wear light colored clothing.
- Avoid perfumes, cologne and scented lotions when going outside.
- Avoid mosquito habitat.
- If possible, use yellow lighting for outdoor fixtures instead of fluorescent.
- Wear long pants and long sleeves when outdoors.
- Use insect repellants containing DEET or Picaridin when outside. (Be sure to follow label directions). Products containing DEET should not be used on infants <2 months of age.
- Avoid the use of gimmick products like sonic emitters and insect zappers. While the zapping light traps do kill some adult mosquitoes, they also kill many other beneficial insects.
The following personal protection information is taken directly from the Center for Disease Control:
Q. How does mosquito repellent work?
A. Female mosquitoes bite people and animals because they need the protein found in blood to help develop their eggs. Mosquitoes are attracted to people by skin odors and carbon dioxide from breath. The active ingredients in repellents make the person unattractive for feeding. Repellents do not kill mosquitoes. Repellents are effective only at short distances from the treated surface, so you may still see mosquitoes flying nearby.
Active Ingredients (Types of Insect Repellent)
Q. Which mosquito repellents work best?
A. CDC recommends using products that have been shown to work in scientific trials and that contain active ingredients which have been registered with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for use as insect repellents on skin or clothing. When EPA registers a repellent, they evaluate the product for efficacy and potential effects on human beings and the environment. EPA registration means that EPA does not expect a product, when used according to the instructions on the label, to cause unreasonable adverse effects to human health or the environment.
Of the active ingredients registered with the EPA, CDC believes that two have demonstrated a higher degree of efficacy in the peer-reviewed, scientific literature (see CDC’s insect repellent page). Products containing these active ingredients typically provide longer-lasting protection than others:
- DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide)
- Picaridin (KBR 3023)
Oil of lemon eucalyptus [active ingredient: p-menthane 3,8-diol (PMD)], a plant-based repellent, is also registered with EPA. In two recent scientific publications, oil of lemon eucalyptus was found to provide protection similar to repellents with low concentrations of DEET. Products containing Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus should not be used on infants <3 years of age.