Take precautions to discourage mosquitoes

The heavy rain of the past couple of weeks were good for the crops and home gardens, but the storms have left a lot of standing water. And that means mosquitoes have numerous places to breed.

The wet weather also could breathe life into eggs that didn’t hatch last year. Mosquito eggs can survive up to 10 years, so those that do nothing during dry conditions are ready to plague us with the arrival of recent rains.

Health officials said early-spring mosquitoes are generally a nuisance but those later in the summer can transmit deadly viruses including West Nile. Already this month, a batch of mosquitoes from Shelby County tested positive for the virus.

Bryan Price, an epidemiologist with the Indiana State Department of Health, said the first positive West Nile batches occur about this time every year, but the rain and more nuisance-biting mosquitoes, as they’re called, don’t necessarily mean more West Nile.

“What really concerns us though as far as West Nile is concerned is if the weather conditions become hot and dry,” Price said in a news release.

Scientists will be watching the weeks to come. Hot and dry weather creates perfect breeding conditions for Culex mosquitoes, the kind that carry West Nile Virus. They replicate in stagnant water, often in the heat of summer, especially late August and early September.

“When we have hot and dry conditions, that leads to more stagnant water sitting around, and that leads to more of those mosquitoes,” Price said.

But taking precautions against mosquito breeding now will pay off throughout the summer. Here are some ways homeowners can reduce mosquito breeding areas:

Empty containers that could accumulate water.

Empty water from old tires. If possible, take the tires to be recycled or disposed of.

Change water in birdbaths regularly.

Stock ornamental pools with small fish that eat mosquito larvae.

Wear insect repellents that contain DEET, picaradin or oil of lemon eucalyptus. For children, use a milder concentration of 10 percent DEET, and don’t use the product on children younger than 2.

We normally associate mosquitoes with warm weather, especially when we’re trying to enjoy an evening meal on the patio. But their life cycle starts with standing water.

So protect yourself now by ridding your yard of standing water. The payoff will come in the form of more pleasant and safer summer activities.

At issue

Recent rains have increased opportunities for mosquitoes to breed.

Our point

Following some simple precautions will make summertime activities more enjoyable.