Mosquito Control is More Important than Ever

Danger

Mosquitos spread disease. The Zika virus is spread by two different species of mosquitos found in the U.S. See the CDC map here. And although we have not yet seen any cases of Zika in the 50 States from mosquito bites, there have been over 440 locally-acquired cases in Puerto Rico [List of cases here]. It is only a matter of time before Zika spread to the continental U.S.

The CDC has now confirmed that Zika virus causes severe birth defects when a pregnant woman is infected. Zika can be spread by mosquito or by sexual contact. And the ill effects of the virus are not limited to the unborn children of pregnant women. Infection with Zika is also associated with Guillain-Barré syndrome. And other serious ill effects can also result from the Zika infection.

West Nile virus is also spread by mosquitos. And unlike Zika, West Nile virus cases are seen in the U.S. every year. Since 1999, there have been over 40,000 cases of West Nile virus in the U.S., with a 4 to 6% death rate [CDC Stats]. Zika is all over the news, but West Nile is currently the greater risk.

Repellants

The CDC says that Lemon Eucalyptus Oil is as effective as DEET in repelling mosquitos. As effective, that is, when compared to repellents with low concentrations of DEET. However, Lemon Eucalyptus Oil is safer than DEET. There are serious reasons to avoid using DEET, especially directly on skin.

Sweet grass is known to repel mosquitos. And fennel oil is also an effective repellant, though not as effective as lemon eucalyptus oil.

More on repellants from the American Mosquito Control Association (apparently, there’s an association for everything in the U.S.).

Traps

There is a DIY mosquito trap described all over the internet, including YouTube. Some people swear it works well, and others say it is a bust. Here’s one video where the trap works for some bugs, but not mosquitos. YMMV.

Amazon has some modestly priced indoors mosquito and bug traps and zappers. But again the reviewers do not agree on whether they work for mosquitos.

I’ve used a similar trap, with great effectiveness, in catching fruit flies. But I caught no mosquitos with the trap. I’m not sure if yeast and sugar (which produces CO2) is the best attractant for mosquitos, but it does attract fruit flies.

Other Precautions

Avoid traveling to disease infected areas. Wear long sleeves and long pants, when practical. Take a walk around your own yard, and eliminate any containers or structures which pool rainwater, allowing mosquitos to breed.

– Thoreau

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