Wet Weather Brings Biting Bugs, Here's How To Avoid Them | WOSU Radio

Wet Weather Brings Biting Bugs, Here's How To Avoid Them

Jun 20, 2019
Originally published on June 23, 2019 6:21 pm

If mosquitoes have emotions and foresight, they're probably happy with the current weather pattern. The abnormally high rainfall means good breeding conditions for the little bloodsuckers.

Health experts say the usual advice to avoid getting bitten still holds true for this year: wear light-colored pants, socks and long sleeves when outside; use mosquito repellent; avoid our area's peak feeding hours of dawn and dusk; and, to cut down on the number of mosquitoes, reduce breeding space by eliminating standing water on your property.

But what do you do when your whole property is covered by water? Some people may find their yards turned into swamps with this month's rain.

Greg Kesterman, assistant heath commissioner at Hamilton County Public Health, says "some types of landscaping can assist with reducing moisture on your property, so you can do some drainage, and be proactive that way."

Gutters, kids' toys, and flower pots can all hold water, and should be drained.

The environmental health and safety director for the Northern Kentucky Health Department says do your best. "You can go out to the store and get mosquito dunks that you can put in areas that have shallow, relatively small areas of standing water that will not allow the mosquito larvae to emerge into an adult," Steve Divine says. 

Kesterman says larvicides are reviewed by the EPA and are all safe for the environment, only targeting mosquito larvae.

Health departments on both sides of the Ohio River set out mosquito traps to get an idea of the overall population, which species are flourishing, and whether any communicable diseases are present.

"It's early on in the season and the weather, because of the storms, sometimes makes it tough to trap but we've been getting a pretty good collection of mosquitoes," Divine says. "We're seeing what we commonly see in our area so far. As the season goes on is when you'll see more and more mosquitoes. If I had to guess, I'd say this was going to be a pretty busy year for mosquitoes."

That could mean a higher risk of a mosquito-borne disease, like West Nile Virus. "Typically we don't see it this early in the season," says Kesterman. "When we do find West Nile Virus, or a human case of West Nile or Zika, we will go out and do a half-mile radius survey of the area."

Those surveys, Kesterman says, are primarily about educating neighbors about eliminating breeding grounds and protecting themselves from bites. "We don't see much sickness with West Nile. Some folks can get really sick from it, but most people don't even know when they have West Nile. Nobody likes a mosquito bite. It's just important to take those precautions."

Divine concurs. "Most mosquitoes don't have diseases in them in our area. It's not like every single mosquito bite you get means something's been transmitted to you, but there's always that potential."

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