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yellow fever (Aedes aegypti) mosquito

AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala. — Mosquitos are a constant source of misery for many people during the summer. As potential vectors of diseases, controlling mosquito populations is an important aspect of human health. That is why the American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA) observes National Mosquito Control Awareness Week each year.

Xing Ping Hu, an Alabama Cooperative Extension System specialist of structural and household pest management, said this week is recognized annually during the third week of June.

“This week aims to educate the public about the significance of mosquitos in their daily lives,” Hu said. “It also calls attention to the vital service that is provided by mosquito control workers throughout the United States and worldwide.”

The Impact of Mosquitos

As if their itchy bites weren’t bad enough, mosquitos are also vectors of diseases that kill thousands of people each year. They also carry diseases and parasites to pets and other animals.

“The risk of exotic-disease transmission is increasing because of the increasing interactions between humans, animals and mosquitos,” Hu said. “This is largely because populations are getting larger, and people are starting to inhabit new areas. Climate change is also a contributing factor.”

To control mosquito populations and mitigate their impact, people should utilize science-based integrated pest management strategies. This include both preventative and defense tactics.

Prevent

Standing water in an old tire, surrounded by potted plants.Eliminating potential mosquito breeding grounds is crucial to controlling populations. Hu — who is also an Auburn University professor in the College of Agriculture — said these breeding grounds can include tree holes, gutters, pet dishes, birdbaths, plant pots and other areas.

“Do not let water collect and stand in any of these areas,” Hu said. “For areas where you want to keep water — such rain barrels and birdbaths — you can apply a biological larvicide. This will kill the larvae and pupae before they become biting adults.”

Biological larvicides are available in a variety of applications, including bits, dunks, tablets, pellets, granules and briquettes. These products are made from natural substances, such as bacteria and insect growth regulators. They are also safe for people, pets and the environment.

Defend

There are several things that people can do to defend themselves from mosquito bites. Hu recommends wearing long sleeves and pants while spending time outdoors. Also, find ways to cover your neck and hands to reduce the chance of being bitten. There are also several mosquito repellent products approved by the Environmental Protection Agency for people to use.

“Keep in mind that the effectiveness of any repellent is dependent on a number of factors,” Hu said. “These factors can include different temperatures and environmental conditions, different species of mosquitos and individual attractiveness of mosquitos to people.”

More Information

To promote National Mosquito Control Awareness Week, the AMCA created several resources to share on social media and other avenues. You can find these resources at www.mosquito.org/mosquito-awareness-week/.

More information on mosquito-prevention methods is available in Hu’s Extension Briefs, “Reducing the Impact of Mosquitos” and “Methods to Effectively Protect You from Mosquito Bites.” You can find these on the Alabama Extension website, www.aces.edu.