The West Nile virus has made its way to the East End according to the Suffolk County Department of Health Services. While no human cases have been reported yet, East Enders need to take preventative measures to avoid being bitten.
What do mosquitoes and humans have in common? Water. We need it to hydrate our bodies, for our yards, pools, etc. Mosquitoes need it to breed. Whether it is in the form of melted snow water or sewage waste, mosquitoes’ breeding grounds can be in any container imaginable – your swimming pool or your glass of water.
The first step to prevent new generations of mosquitoes and the West Nile virus from entering your yard is to eliminate water sources. Here are some tips to do so:
1. Drill holes in the bottom, not the sides, of garbage and recycling containers stored outdoors. Holes on the sides still allow enough water to accumulate in the bottom for mosquitoes to breed.
2. Keep gutters clean and unclogged. Be sure downspouts drain properly, without leaving puddles in the drainage area. If necessary, reroute downspouts or add extensions to carry water away.
3. Keep swimming pools cleaned and chlorinated, even when not in use. Homeowners who go on vacation without chlorinating their pools may return to a veritable mosquito hatchery.
4. Walk around your property after a rain and look for areas in the landscape that are not draining well. If you find puddles that remain for four or more days, then regrade the area.
5. Ornamental ponds should be aerated to keep water moving and discourage mosquitoes from laying eggs. Stock the pond with mosquito-eating fish.
6. Dump anything that holds water twice per week if it has rained such as birdbaths, non-chlorinated wading pools, garbage can lids, pottery, and flowerpot saucers. Don’t leave water in pet bowls for more than two days.
7. Keep the property clean of items that can hold water including discarded aluminum cans and tires.
In addition to limiting the breeding habitat and water sources, it’s also important to limit the adult habitat. Adult mosquitoes rest during the day, usually on tall weeds or other vegetation. Mow the lawn regularly and keep weeds away from the house to make the yard less hospitable.