HOW TO: PROTECT AGAINST WEST NILE VIRUS
West Nile Virus, a mosquito-transmitted disease, has been diagnosed in nearly every state in the nation. For most of us, mosquitoes have been transformed from a nuisance to a serious problem. Prevention is critical in controlling exposure to the virus for yourself and your clients. Many commercial properties have outdoor eating areas for their employees and, of course, we hope park goers and residential clients are outside enjoying the fruits of your labors. There are some easy ways to eliminate or control the mosquito population on your properties that will benefit everyone involved.
Mosquito eggs are laid in standing water and hatch within 48 hours. The larvae pupate into flying adults within 10 to 14 days. Once mosquito season arrives, you should empty and replace the water in birdbaths and fountains at least once per week. If you can't do this regularly, turn basins over or replace them with a piece of statuary that does not hold water.
Fix catch basins or low places in drain tiles so that water does not stand in them. This standing water is usually out of sight and out of mind, but can be a place for mosquitoes to breed. Check outlets from sump pumps to be sure water drains out and away.
Regrade low places in the lawn or landscape to ensure continuous drainage away from the landscape. Whether West Nile stays with us or not, for people who attract mosquitoes, the discomfort from the bites themselves might make it worth the expense to fix low-lying areas. In some cases, it may be as simple as bringing in soil to fill in the low spots.
Inspect outdoor (or indoor, depending on your shop) faucets and hoses for leaks. Get those plugged up and tightened down or install new washers.
If you cannot eliminate standing water, use larvicides to help control the adult population.
To protect yourself, use a mosquito repellent on any exposed skin. The Centers for Disease Control recommend DEET as the most effective repellent. A product with a higher concentration of DEET does not work better, it just works longer, so choose your product depending on the length of time you will be exposed to mosquitoes. If you need a sunscreen and repellent, apply the sunscreen first, then the repellent. The CDC does not recommend DEET/sunscreen combinations since you may need to reapply sunscreen more often than DEET.
Products containing permethrin can be applied to clothing only and not on the skin. It must be applied 2 to 4 hours before being exposed to mosquitoes.
There are a few natural-ingredient-only repellents that may provide up to 2 hours of protection. These include products containing a combination of soybean oil, geranium oil and coconut oil or products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus.
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