Water still stands in small pools all around Seminole and Gaines County as a reminder of the wet spell that dropped between two and six inches of rain over a multi-day span of cooler than normal temperatures over Memorial Day weekend.
Although the moisture is considered much needed by many residents in West Texas, that rainfall has the potential of producing millions upon millions more little issues.
Spanish for “little fly,” the often pesky creatures pose as a summertime nuisance, especially after periods of rain events, where pools of stagnant water most commonly become the breeding grounds for the insects.
Mosquito populations are likely to increase after the recent rainfall, according to experts with the Texas AgriLife Extension Service.
Mosquitoes go through four distinct stages during their life cycle: egg, larvae, pupae, and adult.
Mosquitoes lay their eggs on a water surface and the larva and pupal stages develop in the water.
It can take as little as 10 days for an egg to develop into an adult. Therefore, residents need to be proactive in their mosquito management tactics.
Management tactics should include several steps which will reduce mosquito populations around homes and protect residents and family members from mosquitoes.
Experts suggests local residents, in their quest to keep mosquito populations down, dump out any standing water that will serve as a breeding site for mosquitoes.
Places like old tires, bird baths, dog dishes, small swimming pools, buckets and livestock watering troughs.
All of these items should be emptied out at least once a week.
Next on the list is yard management.
Keep lawns short and get rid of any weedy areas that will serve as resting sites for adult mosquitoes.
All of this will help to reduce mosquito populations around homes, but it will not completely eliminate them.
To help prevent mosquitoes from entering one’s home, experts suggest residents look for problem areas around the house, such as broken window and door screens or any gaps around door and window frames.
Other tips local residents could use in the prevention of mosquito bites include wearing light colored long sleeve loose-fitting clothing and to avoid being outside at dusk and dawn, as it is at those times when mosquitoes are the most active.
Use mosquito fish or other fish species in permanent bodies of water whenever the water will support them.
Mosquito fish can be found in other ponds, pet shops or bait stores.
Use Bacillus Thuringiensis Israeliensis products such as Mosquito Dunks to treat permanent water bodies to eliminate larvae.
The City of Seminole, has yet to spray for mosquitos, awaiting the hatching process.
Few treatments work on the insects, before this occurs.
“We are treating bodies of standing water, as needed, to prevent a hatching problem,” said City Manager, Tommy Phillips.
Most of the rain water was absorbed quickly, so another round of showers, while welcome, might be what starts the mosquitos of summer.
Mosquito Facts and Protection from West Nile Disease:
After recent early summer rains in West Texas, mosquitoes are coming. People will be suffering from the annoying itch of mosquito bites.
Before you worry about West Nile infection, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center epidemiologist Ronald Warner, D.V.M., Ph.D., reminds us of some facts and methods to prevent this mosquito-borne disease.
Dr. Warner, in the Department of Family and Community Medicine, said between March and June, “West Nile” mosquitoes prefer to feed on birds such as crows, ravens, robins, sparrows and jays. July to October, these mosquitoes shift their feeding preference to mammals, including humans. The female mosquitoes need to feast on protein enriched foods (blood) to develop and form their eggs. Once winter arrives adult mosquitoes will seek shelter in attics and under shingles and the bark on trees. Some unhatched mosquito eggs will be resistant to winter weather and survive until the return of spring rains.
“Domestic pets, such as dogs and cats, are rarely infected with West Nile but horses, mules and donkeys are much more susceptible,” Warner said. “There are several vaccinations to help prevent your horses from being infected by the West Nile virus.”
Depending on a person’s age and health condition, some may have serious effects from West Nile virus, if infected. Underlying diseases such as hypertension and kidney disease appear to increase the severity of West Nile disease. Younger people, especially transplant patients and others with immune suppression (e.g., cancer treatment), can also suffer severe effects.
On average, most West Nile diseases are acquired near the home because that is where people spend most of their outdoor time. Outdoor candles, torches and/or coils may be burned to produce a smoke that repels mosquitoes, but make sure the active ingredient contains the oil of citronella. Be aware of general fire hazards and use only under calm or windless weather conditions. A few more household tips to keep in mind: keep your grass fairly short, remove weeds in your alley, and always remember to practice the “4 Ds:”
-DEET is the active ingredient in “Off,” but avoid applying high-concentrations (no more than 50% DEET); no more than 10% on small children. Also, use skin repellents sparingly; one application should last 4 to 6 hours, but apply after profuse sweating or swimming.
-Dress appropriately if outdoors; wear long sleeves, long pants and apply mosquito repellent to the remaining area of skin that is not covered by your clothing. Permethrin-containing repellents (permanone) may be put on clothing, shoes and camping gear. Permethrin-treated clothing repels ticks, mosquitoes and other arthropods and retains this effect even after repeated washings. However, if a garment is dry-cleaned, the repellent will need to be re-applied.
-Dusk and Dawn are the times during the day when mosquitoes are the most active.
-Drain ALL standing water around your home. Wadding pools - drain every other day; also flower pot basins, dog bowls, and kids toys. Any standing water will attract mosquitoes and provide a place for their eggs to develop and hatch.
There are many myths about mosquitoes. Warner said one myth is mosquitoes become larger with more rain; that is false.
“In Texas alone there are approximately 80 different documented species of mosquitoes. The time of year and local weather conditions determine what type of species we will have,” Warner said.
Warner added that eating bananas, washing your mouth with Listerine and wearing dark clothes will not protect you from mosquito bites. Just remember to practice the 4 Ds and look for the active ingredients that help protect you and your loved ones.