By Barbara Moore, Neighborhood & Community Relations Coordinator
As we move into spring, everyone wants to spend time outside enjoying the pleasant, sunny weather. Unfortunately, warmer temperatures also mark the return of those pesky mosquitoes and the risks they bring.
Mosquito bites are certainly itchy and annoying, but they can also make you sick. That’s why it’s important to do all you can to protect you and your family.
In recent years, the focus has been on preventing West Nile virus after several cases were reported in Brazos County. This year, we face a new risk — the Zika virus. We haven’t had any local cases reported, but it has made headlines elsewhere in the state.
Dunks reduce the risk
In the past, cities relied on fogging or spray trucks in vain attempts to control mosquitoes, but most now distribute mosquito dunks as a more effective and environmentally-friendly solution. The small, donut-shaped dunks slowly release a biological mosquito larvicide at the water’s surface for 30 days or more under normal conditions.
You can put dunks where mosquitoes breed, such as birdbaths, rain barrels, ponds, old tires, sewers, gutters, creeks, streams, drainage channels or any other area with standing or slow-moving water. Each dunk covers about 100 square feet and can be broken up if treating smaller areas.
The City of College Station’s Mosquito Abatement Program provides up to $200 of mosquito dunks to registered neighborhood and homeowners associations. We also have a small quantity of free dunks available to residents who don’t belong to an association.
Call 979-764-6262 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information.
What else can you do?
The Texas Department of Health and Human Services recommends these proactive measures to prevent mosquitoes from breeding in and around your home:
- At least weekly, empty or get rid of cans, buckets, old tires, pots, plant saucers, and other containers that hold water.
- Keep gutters clear of debris and standing water.
- Remove standing water around structures and flat roofs.
- Change water in pet dishes daily.
- Rise and scrub vases and other indoor water containers weekly.
- Change water in wading pools and birdbaths several times a week.
- Maintain and keep backyard pools and hot tubs clean and free from debris.
- Cover trash and recycling containers.
- When watering lawns and gardens, don’t overwater or leave run-off water for several days.
- Add screens to rain barrels and openings to water tanks and cisterns.
- Treat front and back areas of homes with residual insecticides if mosquitoes are nearby.
- Trim and prune overgrown vegetation and shrubs.
- If mosquito problems persist, consider pesticide applications for vegetation around the home.
- Consider treating standing water that can’t be drained with mosquito dunks to kill mosquito larvae before they hatch.
- Use mosquito dunks in ponds, creeks, drainage ditches and other areas with stagnant water.
- Wear insect repellant and long sleeve shirts and pants whenever possible.
- Make sure window screens are intact and not torn.
- Limit outdoor activities during peak mosquito hours such as dusk and dawn.
These common sense with help you get the most of your outdoor activities while reducing the risks of mosquito-borne illnesses.
- What You Need to Know About the Zika Virus (Texas A&M)
- Centers for Disease Control
- World Health Organization
- Texas Department of State Health Services
Barbara Moore is in her eighth year as the city’s neighborhood and community relations coordinator. She previously served as executive director of Family Outreach of Bryan/College Station and was director of faith-based relations for the Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity. Barbara is a 1992 graduate of Jackson State and earned her master’s degree in public administration from the University of Washington in 1996.
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