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Recent rains may bug area residents

June 15, 2009

If your July 4th barbecue has an abundance of un-welcomed visitors in the form of mosquitoes you can possibly thank the heavy rains that have recently deluged the Delaware Valley, says Temple University biology professor Stuart Neff.

Since mosquito larvae are aquatic, the heavy rains, may have caused the mosquito eggs to hatch mosquitovery rapidly.  “There’s a very possible chance that the recent rains has caused many, many mosquito eggs to hatch, and they’re well on their way to developing into hungry adults,” he says.  “It shouldn’t be long before people are being bothered as they sit outside during their barbecues.”

Neff, an expert in aquatic insect populations, points out that the rains have also left behind a number of isolated, calm pools of dirty, stagnating water, which are very hospitable breeding grounds for mosquito larvae.  He advises checking outside the house for buckets, cans, pots, containers and kiddie pools that might have filled with rain water.  “These areas are going to attract some mosquitoes from a great distance to come and lay their eggs,” he says.  “If the water is left to stand for even a short period of time, the larvae can go through their cycle very quickly and produce many mosquitoes.”

To avoid becoming a mosquito’s next meal, Neff also offers the following tips:   “Most mosquitoes are active in the early morning, from about dawn until 10 a.m., and in the late afternoon and early evening,” he says.  “So if you’re sitting on your patio as the sun’s going down, and it’s getting a little cooler, the mosquito is ready to feed on you.”

Neff says the House Mosquito, a common indoor mosquito that feeds off of birds, is a good vector for the West Nile, so screens should be used when windows are open.  Mosquitoes are particularly attracted to the carbon dioxide from our breathing and the nitrogen waste that our bodies shed through perspiration, he says, and the back of the neck and ankles are favorite feeding spots.

“One good way to keep mosquitoes off you, other than wearing long sleeve shirts and pants, is to use any kind of insect spray or lotion that contains Deet, which is a very good insect repellent,” he suggests.  And if you are perspiring, Neff recommends reapplying the repellent frequently.  Finally, says Neff, Citronella, which is frequently used in outdoor candles, is a good deterrent against mosquitoes, but doesn’t provide long-term protection against the pesky insects.

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