As summer heats up, mosquitoes begin to breed.

Experts Predict 'Mosquito Summer from Hell'

Homeowners are advised to be vigilant in eliminating places where water can collect and stand in their yards and gardens.

Record-setting floods in the Mississippi River basin and abnormally high rainfall amounts in the Northeast, Great Lakes, Midwest and throughout the Pacific Northwest have resulted in a wet, soggy springtime in much of the United States.

All of this flooding and heavy rainfall means lots of standing water where mosquitoes can breed—just as the weather warms up for the annual mosquito season. That’s why top mosquito control experts are expecting the summer of 2011 to be the worst mosquito season in decades. More mosquitoes mean more mosquito bites and a potential increase in mosquito-borne illness such as West Nile virus, they say.

“The heavy rains bode for a bumper crop of mosquitoes,” says Joseph Conlon, technical advisor for the American Mosquito Control Association.

Another expert is more emphatic. “This is going to be the mosquito summer from hell,” says Jon Cohen, president of Summit Chemical Co., a Baltimore-based company that makes mosquito control products. “The standing water left in the aftermath of the floods and heavy rains will provide an abundance of breeding opportunities for mosquitoes.”

As summer heats ups and mosquitoes begin to breed, consumers will be actively seeking products that kill and repel mosquitoes, Cohen predicts. To control adult mosquitoes, insecticidal sprays can be used to keep insect pests out of yards and gardens. “Spraying a backyard can help to reduce suitable mosquito resting areas in landscape vegetation and therefore reduce the chances of being bitten by mosquitoes and other insects,” said Cohen. “Spraying the wooded areas that your dog frequents can also aid in reducing the risk of tick-borne illness for pets and humans.”

Homeowners are advised to be vigilant in eliminating places where water can collect and stand in their yards and gardens. “Mosquitoes can breed in a coffee cup of standing water in less than a week,” says Cohen.

Other tips: Dispose of tin cans, plastic containers, old tires, and other items that can collect water. Turn over wheelbarrows, and empty children’s wading pools. Clean clogged roof gutters, which can become prime mosquito-breeding pools. Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers that are left outdoors. Periodically empty the saucers under ceramic pots to make sure they are not harboring mosquito larvae.

To reduce the chances of getting mosquito bites, limit your outdoor activities during the times of day when mosquitoes are most active—an hour before and after dawn and an hour before and after dusk. To repel mosquitoes, use a product containing DEET, which sets the standard by which all other repellents are judged. Also, don’t forget that clothing is an excellent barrier between you and a mosquito. Wear clothing that will protect more of your body, such as long-sleeved shirts and long pants, especially during the evening hours.

“If you’re outside and not wearing repellent when the mosquitoes begin hatching out, you’d better be wearing your ‘big boy’ pants because you’re going to need them,” Conlon says.

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