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Thursday, May 08, 2014

Residents Encouraged to Take Steps to Reduce Mosquito Breeding Grounds in their Own Yards and Neighborhoods

ANNAPOLIS, MD – The weather has been wet and soggy and now it’s warming up – a combination which means (among other things): more mosquitoes and a higher risk of mosquito-borne diseases to humans, pets and livestock. The Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) encourages citizens to learn about the simple things they can do around their homes and yards to reduce mosquito breeding grounds and help keep mosquito populations in check.
“There are 60 species of mosquitoes in Maryland, and many of them are annoying and potentially carry disease,” said Agriculture Secretary Buddy Hance. “When they are biting people and ruining outdoor activities, they can seem to be winning the war, but there are steps homeowners can take right now to prevent them from breeding and multiplying.”

One of the most aggravating mosquitoes is the exotic invasive Asian Tiger, which comes out during the day and can be particularly aggressive. It breeds in small containers around your house rather than in open wetlands, ditches, ponds or marshes. MDA recently launched a new web page to help people identify whether the mosquitoes around their homes are Asian Tigers and what they can do to reduce their breeding grounds. The page also contains informational videos about breeding areas as well as about mosquito-borne disease. Some tips include:
  • Walk around your house and yard and look for anything that retains even just a little amount of water. If you find any, dump the water and either throw the item away or store it in or under something that does not collect water. 
  • Remove corrugated drain pipe off of downspouts and consider replacing it with smooth PVC piping. Each corrugation is a potential breeding ground. If removal isn’t possible, use screening to cover openings. 
  • Properly store children’s toys, especially plastic toys that have small areas where water can pool. 
  • Store containers, including buckets, pales, water bottles, storage totes, recycling containers, etc, where they can’t collect rain water. Keep trash cans and rain barrels covered. 
  • Look for tarps that hold water, old tires, plastic outside furniture, flower pots (especially those with a drip saucer, wheel barrels, canoes and boats stored improperly — anything that can hold small amounts of water. Store or cover them so they don’t collect water.
For a more comprehensive list, see the website
Be aware that if you find and eliminate all the breeding grounds you are eliminating future mosquitoes but you will still encounter mosquitoes for up to two more weeks as the adults die off.
Unlike the Asian Tiger, native mosquitoes tend to breed in larger wetlands, ditches, ponds and marshes. The MDA website also has tips for reducing breeding spots for these types of species as well.  
MDA works with about 2,000 communities in 16 counties across the state to survey and monitor mosquito populations and to implements appropriate control activities, such as applying insecticide by air and ground. MDA recently began a larviciding-by-air program on the Eastern Shore to control mosquitoes before they’re able to grow up and fly into populated communities.  
Other Resources:
Watch Don’t Get Bitten: Avoid Breeding Mosquitoes in Your Backyard, a 4-minute video from MDA for information about how to avoid breeding Asian Tiger Mosquitoes.
Watch Don’t Go Viral: Avoid West Nile Virus, a 4-minute video from the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene about how to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes.  
Avoid the Bite! 
Everyone is at risk of mosquito-borne disease and should consider taking measures to protect themselves from mosquito bites. These measures include:
  • Wear long, lose fitting, light colored clothing.
  • Wear long sleeves and long pants. 
  • Wear insect repellents, according to product labels.
  • Avoid mosquito-infested areas.
  • Install and inspect window and door screens in homes and stables and repair any holes found.
  • Regularly clean bird baths and bowls for pet food and water.
  • Remove unnecessary water-holding containers.
Don’t forget your pets! There are several diseases that mosquitoes can transmit to pets, including heartworm disease in dogs and cats, as well as several viruses that cause encephalitis in horses. Owners are encouraged to consult with their veterinarian about proper vaccinations and preventions.

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