Mosquitoes are one of the most important insect pests that affect the health and well being of humans and domestic animals worldwide. If environmental conditions are favorable, vast populations can develop. Female mosquitoes require a blood meal for egg production, and they produce a painful bite as they feed. While feeding, they can transmit a number of disease-causing organisms to humans and animals. The diseases these organisms cause include: West Nile fever, encephalitis, dengue fever, filariasis, yellow fever, and malaria. Encephalitis, dengue and West Nile virus (caused by different mosquito born viruses) are potential threats.
Here are some things to consider:
- Mosquitoes need water to complete their life cycle, so remove all possible water sources. Check flowerpots, birdbaths, pet watering bowls and other containers for excess water. Store boats, canoes and other objects so that they do not collect rainwater. Keep rain gutters free of leaves and other debris that prevent water from draining. Correct drainage problems in yards and playing fields to prevent rain and irrigation water from pooling for prolonged periods. Fill holes or depressions in trees. Repair leaky pipes and outside faucets. Correct or report drainage problems in ditches along public or private roadways.
- For water or structures that cannot be removed, mosquitoes can still be eliminated from them by careful maintenance. Replace water containers for pets, birdbaths and fountains every few days. Maintain swimming pools correctly. For ponds, Gambusia (mosquito-eating fish) can be introduced.
- Keep mosquitoes out of the home by installing and maintaining tight-fitting window and door screens.
- Some personal protection from mosquitoes can be achieved using insect repellents.
- Mosquitoes also transmit heartworm in dogs. Heartworm can cause severe circulatory problems and produce symptoms such as coughing, labored breathing and general loss of vitality in advanced stages. Because of the impracticality of protecting dogs from mosquito feeding, the most effective means of controlling heartworm is to prevent worms from reaching the adult stage inside the dog. Veterinarians can prescribe excellent drug treatment to protect pets from heartworm.
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