Protect yourself and help reduce the mosquito population

FREEHOLD – As the mosquito season enters into its peak period Monmouth County residents should take precautions to protect themselves from mosquito bites and eliminate backyard mosquito habitats that allow for the spread of mosquito-borne diseases such as the West Nile virus.

“Late summer is prime time in Monmouth County for mosquitoes that thrive in water and humidity,” said Freeholder Robert D. Clifton, liaison to the Monmouth County’s Mosquito Extermination Commission. “Residents need to be vigilant in protecting themselves and reducing the places where mosquitoes can increase their population.”

“It is important that residents follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recommendations for personal protection,” said Douglas Guthrie Sr., Superintendent of the county’s mosquito control program.

The CDC recommends that 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,” Guthrie said.  “Repellents with a higher percentage of an active ingredient, like DEET, typically provide longer-lasting protection.”

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 Tire Amnesty Month is one way to help.”

This August, Monmouth County residents have been asked to remove old car tires from their yards as a way to target and eliminate a common mosquito breeding habitat. As part of Tire Amnesty Month, county residents can bring tires to the Aberdeen Public Works Yard, 147 Lenox Rd., now through Aug. 31, Monday through Saturday, from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

The tire amnesty program encourages, residents to drop off up to eight rimless car tires that are no larger than 20 inches in diameter. This service is free during August at the Aberdeen location. Towns do not pick up tires as part of residential trash removal, and tire replacement businesses charge a fee to dispose of used automobile tires. Residents who know of an abandoned tire dump or a location of piles of old tires should contact the county Mosquito Commission at 732-542-3630. 

The Mosquito Extermination Commission routinely tests various county sites to monitor mosquito breeding and activity including the presence of West Nile virus (WNV). Last week the commission confirmed that one mosquito sample and three birds tested positive for the WNV.

“These recent findings are fairly typical for this time of year,” said Guthrie. “The county’s mosquito surveillance shows that the WNV is amplified as the bird-mosquito cycle begins to accelerate” 

The mosquito sample came from the East Keansburg section of Middletown while the dead crows came from three locations, one each from Wall Township, Spring Lake, and Shrewsbury Borough. The mosquitoes were collected by Commission personnel as part of the mosquito-borne disease component of its surveillance program.

The mosquito samples that are collected as part of the Commission’s surveillance program are transported to the New Jersey State Department of Health and Senior Services laboratory in Trenton where they are tested for the virus. This is part of a statewide Vector Surveillance Program that is funded in part by the State Mosquito Control Commission and administered by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s, Office of Mosquito Control Coordination. The data gathered from this collaborative effort are used by the Commission to target specific areas for additional treatment.

“Professional mosquito control is always guided by the surveillance, giving you the most efficient and effective results for your efforts,” Tony Acquaviva, Commission entomologist said.  

Residents who find dead birds should call their local or regional public health departments to report the finding. Birds in the corvid family, consisting of crows, blue jays, and grackles, that do not have obvious signs of injury or decay can be collected by heath officials and submitted to the State Health Department laboratory for testing.

“I have every confidence in the professionalism and dedication of the Commission’s employees to provide quality mosquito control,” Guthrie said. “I also recognize the fact that we can’t eliminate all mosquitoes. Therefore, it is important that citizens follow the CDC’s recommendations for personal protection and help us reduce mosquito habitats.   

For the latest information on mosquito control and mosquito-borne disease activity in Monmouth County, residents can log onto the Commission’s website at www.visitmonmouth.com.    

The most up-to-date mosquito control information can also be heard on the Commission’s hotline at 732-578-1600.