Spring brought lots of rain…so now what’s bugging you?

FREEHOLD, N.J. – April showers bring May flowers, according to the adage, but when it rains in April, May and June it brings something more – mosquitoes.

The Monmouth County Mosquito Extermination Commission is marking National Mosquito Awareness Week by asking residents to help combat mosquitoes by inspecting their properties for standing water. Any area or container that holds water for a week or more has the potential to produce hundreds or even thousands of mosquitoes looking for a meal.

“This has been an extremely wet spring, which means the mosquitoes have had the best conditions possible for breeding,” Freeholder Director Robert D. Clifton said. “Our Mosquito Extermination Commission has been very busy tracking and, where possible, eliminating these pests.”

The Centers for Disease Control says people can reduce the risk of being bitten by mosquitoes and, as a result, lower their exposure to insect-borne diseases by following some simple steps:

  • ·When outdoors, apply insect repellent following the label instructions, especially for use on children
  • ·wear long sleeved shirts and long pants whenever possible
  • ·avoid outdoor activity at peak mosquito times – dusk and dawn

The CDC also recommends the use of repellents that contain the active ingredient DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide) or picaridin (KBR 3023) or IR 3535. Products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus (p-menthane-3,8-diol) provide better protection than other plant-based repellents but fall short compared to products containing high concentrations of DEET.

“You should choose a repellent that provides protection for the amount of time you will be outdoors,” said Douglas Guthrie Sr., superintendent of the county’s mosquito control program.   “Repellents with a higher percentage of an active ingredient, like DEET, typically provide longer-lasting protection.”

Established in 1914, the Monmouth County Mosquito Extermination Commission has a long history of dealing with bad mosquito seasons with a professional response.

The commission also emphasizes that homeowners should check that their window and door screens are in good repair, and that their property is free of water-holding containers such as cans, buckets, tires, flower pots, wheelbarrows and toys that create areas where mosquitoes can breed.

“The best way to prevent a mosquito bite is to get rid of backyard larval mosquito habitats,” Freeholder Clifton said. “Participating in a tire amnesty program is one way to help.”

The county expects it will provide free dropoff of old tires in August, the peak month for mosquitoes in Monmouth County.

“Not only do mosquitoes make outdoor activities uncomfortable, these pests can spread diseases such as West Nile virus,” Guthrie said.” That’s why we advise people to get rid of unwanted containers like old tires, turning over buckets and refreshing the water at least weekly in items such as bird baths.”

The Mosquito Extermination Commission routinely tests various county sites to monitor mosquito breeding and activity including the presence of West Nile virus.

Cleaning clogged roof gutters, fixing outdoor leaks and repairing broken or missing window screens are also important steps to take, Guthrie said. For areas of standing water too large for homeowners to tackle, Mosquito Extermination Commission inspectors are a telephone call away and will come out to evaluate and treat the problem.

In addition to these mosquito control methods, entomologists also stress the use of mosquito repellants when outdoors. Products with the active ingredients of DEET, Picaridin, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus, or IR 3535 have been demonstrated to be effective in reducing the chances of being bitten by mosquitoes. The entomologists caution, however, to read and follow the product label directions as with all insect repellants.

The Monmouth County Mosquito Extermination Commission can be reached by calling (732) 542-3630. Visit them online at www.visitmonmouth.com/ for more information or to arrange an inspection.