Are you doing your part to keep mosquitoes away?

FREEHOLD, NJ – Spring got an early jump in 2012, and so did the local mosquito population.

“We’ve had an early, wet spring, which means mosquitoes have had good conditions for breeding,” Freeholder Deputy Director Thomas A. Arnone said. “Our Mosquito Extermination Commission is very busy tracking and, where possible, eliminating these summer pests. And there are many things residents can do to help rid them in their own back yards.”

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 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.

“To find out more about mosquitoes and how to reduce your risk of being bitten, we have set up exhibits at the county library’s Headquarters in Manalapan and Eastern Branch in Shrewsbury,” said Douglas Guthrie Sr., superintendent of the county’s mosquito control program. “There will be literature and some child-friendly activities to help residents be an active part of reducing our county mosquito population.”

The information will be on display June 24 through July 2 as part of National Mosquito Control Awareness Week.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) 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, and
  • avoid outdoor activity at peak mosquito times – dusk and dawn.

The CDC also recommends the use of repellents that contain the active ingredient DEET, Picaridin, or IR 3535.  Products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus 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,” Guthrie said. “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 handling difficult mosquito seasons with a professional response.

“The best way to prevent a mosquito bite is to get rid of backyard larval mosquito habitats,” Arnone said. “Getting rid of standing water in your yard is critical in this fight.”

“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 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.