By Zia Mehr, Entomologist, U.S. Army Public Health CommandJuly 15, 2015
Summer is officially here and many individuals are spending more time outdoors. Being outdoors increases one's risk of being bitten by mosquitoes. Not only do mosquito bites make outdoor activities unpleasant, their bites can transmit diseases to people and domestic animals. In the United States, mosquitoes can spread West Nile fever, dengue, chikungunya and several other debilitating diseases. Mosquitoes are also responsible for transmitting heartworm in dogs.
To better educate Army personnel on what they can do to protect against mosquito-borne disease, the Entomology Program of the Army Institute of Public Health has released a video on controlling mosquitoes in and around the home. The video can be reviewed on Youtube.
All mosquitoes have one common requirement--they need water to complete their life cycle.
"Mosquitoes grow in almost any source of water, including fresh water (even if heavily polluted), saltwater marshes, brackish water and sewage. Mosquitoes can live in the water in tin cans, bird baths, barrels, ornamental ponds, boats, canoes, discarded tires, plant pots, clogged gutters and poorly-maintained swimming pools," said Tom Burroughs, entomology program manager at the AIPH.
Army entomologists say there are steps one can take around the home to decrease mosquito breeding and basic personal protective measures that can reduce one's chances of being bitten. According to the video, controlling mosquitoes in and around the home can be accomplished by reducing larval and adult populations and avoiding contact with mosquitoes. Mosquitoes also bite indoors, so individuals need to prevent mosquitoes from gaining entry into living and sleeping quarters and eliminate those that might already be there.
Entomologists want individuals to keep in mind that adult mosquitoes can fly several miles from the water source where they developed. Therefore, attempts at controlling mosquitoes on certain premises may not eliminate all biting activity.
A community-wide effort may be needed to reduce mosquito levels, according to AIPH personnel.
"This will require the cooperation of neighboring homeowners, home-owners associations, and local government agencies to reduce adult populations and breeding sites," said Burroughs.