With all the rains we have had in May and temperatures heating up, I’m sure everyone has noticed the increased presence of pesky pests.

If you enjoy spending your evenings outside, in the garden or on the porch, mosquitoes can be a nuisance.

Mosquitoes are considered one of the deadliest insects in the world, but thankfully there is no concern over diseases such as malaria, dengue fever and yellow fever here in Kansas. However, mosquitoes still are a cause of concern as their bites can still lead to swelling and discomfort as well as the occasional case of West Nile Virus (WNV).

Don’t forget your pets either, as mosquitoes can transfer dog heartworm as well.

There are numerous types of traps and electronic repellents available on the market today. However, a lot of these products have been researched and shown to be rather ineffective in controlling mosquitoes.

Bug zappers, UV lights, and CO2 emitters can attract just as many mosquitoes as they trap and typically will not reduce the number of mosquitoes below a nuisance level. Pesticide fogging can be effective on active adults, but the results may only last for a couple days in an area, as new mosquitoes hatch or adult mosquitoes move into the area.

The best way to control mosquitoes is by eliminating the environment for breeding and larval development. This environment is typically around stagnant or standing water sources such as the following: buckets, stock tanks, old tires, low ground that holds water and bird baths.

In stock tanks or small fish ponds in landscapes, fish such as minnows or goldfish eat mosquito larvae. Removing items that hold water or at least emptying those of any standing water a couple times a week help reduce the amount of larvae around your home.

For larger bodies of water there are some pesticide tablets that can be put in the water that take of mosquito larvae.

The best protection against mosquitoes is to protect yourself first. Mosquitoes are most active in the early morning or in the evening, so if you plan on being outside during those hours, personal protection is key. Wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants can act as a physical barrier, however, mosquitoes can penetrate through light clothing such as leggings. Insect repellent is also a key factor to protecting yourself and make sure you use a repellent that contains a higher percentage of DEET.

The most common insect repellents contain DEET, because DEET is still highly effective. The more DEET a repellent contains, the longer it will protect you. A higher percentage of DEET does not mean it works better, but it will last longer.

Any products containing more than 33 percent DEET are not recommended for direct skin contact, especially on children. Be sure to re-apply repellent if you are outside for many hours at a time.

Please contact the K-State Research & Extension – Dickinson County office if you would like more information on mosquito control or any other pest information. Call (785) 263-2001 or email tonyw@ksu.edu. Information for this article was compiled from “Mosquitoes and West Nile Virus” by Dr. Ludek Zurek.

Contact Tim Horan at editor@abilene-rc.com.

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