The Zika virus has raised public awareness about the need for mosquito control. Protection from a wide range of mosquito-borne diseases starts at home with steps we all can take to eliminate mosquito breeding sites.
Diseases commonly carried by mosquitoes in Virginia include West Nile virus (WNV), Eastern Equine encephalitis (EEE), La Crosse encephalitis (LAC), and St. Louis encephalitis (SLE). According to the Virginia Department of Health, a few cases of imported mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria, dengue, or chikungunya are also reported each year.
Mosquitoes require as little as a tablespoon of water to lay eggs in. They can successfully breed in any area or container that has still, shallow standing water for more than three days. The number-one source of mosquito bites in our area is the Asian Tiger mosquito, which is a container breeder.
To eliminate breeding sites, conduct a neighborhood “dump the bucket” inspection and walk-around. Look for:
- Blocked gutterzis, downspouts and drain pipes. Make sure that water is flowing freely and consider replacing corrugated non-perforated pipes with smooth-walled pipes that flow freely.
- Buckets, pet water dishes, plant pot saucers, watering cans and bird baths. Do not allow water to stand undisturbed for more than three days and clean regularly.
- Old tires, car parts, unused toys and gardening equipment. Remove these and similar items that may collect water.
- Tarps over boats, firewood, cars, patio furniture and other items.Tighten them down and make sure that they do not trap water or allow it to puddle.
Water in standing drains like sumps and rain barrels can be treated with a natural larval control that will not harm other insects or animals. Virginia Cooperative Extension’s Pest Management Guide for Home Grounds and Animals Publication 456-018 is accessible online and can answer questions about control options for mosquito larvae and adults that are effective and rated for homeowner use.
The Arlington County VCE Horticulture Help Desk deals with questions and concerns about insects, plant identification, pesticides, plant disease, plant selection, household insects, ticks and mosquitoes and attracting and deterring wildlife. Located at the Fairlington Community Center, 3308 South Stafford St., it is staffed from 9 a.m. to noon weekdays by VCE Master Gardener volunteers. Appointments are not required, and walk-ins are welcome. The Help Desk can be reached by phone at 703-228-6414 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A full schedule of public education programs related to gardening can be found at www.mgnv.org.
Kirsten Conrad Buhls
Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension Agent
Fairlington Community Center, 3308 S. Stafford St., Arlington VA 22206
Virginia Cooperative Extension http://www.ext.vt.edu is a joint program of Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and state and local governments. VCE programs and employment are open to all, regardless of race, color, national origin, gender, gender identity, gender expression, religion, age, disability, political affiliation, sexual orientation, genetic information, veteran status, or any other basis protected by law. An equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; Jewel E. Hairston, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State, Petersburg.