Here we are in the middle of summer and mosquito season is in full swing. The Montgomery County Health Department S.W.A.T. (Surveillance of Water and Airborne Transmitters) Team has been actively identifying areas throughout the county to trap for high mosquito populations. So far this year, the S.W.A.T. team has collected, typed and sent off more than 6,000 mosquitoes to the Indiana State Department of Health to be tested for West Nile Virus. The health department has recently been notified by ISDH that four pools of mosquitoes have tested positive for West Nile Virus throughout the county. While this may sound alarming, it is common to see West Nile Virus peak around this time of year. This simply just means that some of the mosquitoes that are being collected have the virus in them. While there has been no positive West Nile human cases in the county since 2012, there are still precautions that we can take as a community to make sure we are steering clear from West Nile Virus.
Adulticiding, or spraying for mosquitoes, is a way that we can help keep mosquitoes at bay. We feel it is important to share the how’s and when’s of spraying for adult mosquitoes in order to set the right expectation for residents:
• Spraying can only be done beginning at dusk — when adult mosquitoes come out
• Wind speeds cannot be more than 7 miles per hour to allow for proper drift
• Temps must remain between 80-75 degrees after dusk
• Only public areas may be sprayed
• We cannot spray along creeks and streams
• We cannot spray when it is raining or there is a threat of rain within four hours
Spraying for mosquitoes, while helpful, is a reactive approach to the problem. Spraying will only eliminate adult mosquitoes that are in flight and come in contact with the fog. Our department has been working on a proactive approach that includes larvaciding but Montgomery County will never be mosquito free. Mosquitoes are attracted to dirty stagnant water that is rich in organic nutrients. Conditions that meet these criteria allow for the mosquitoes’ ideal breeding environment. Mosquitoes can breed in as little as a bottle cap full of water, so living near a lake or pond is not a requirement to nurture mosquitoes. They can also travel up to a mile from their breeding site so becoming conscious of these types of areas within a mile radius of your location can help you prevent mosquitoes.
With or without a mosquito program in place, your best tool is yourself. A simple proactive measure that you can take is cleaning your gutters. Gutters can harvest thousands of mosquitoes and when clogged can even remain moist in the driest conditions. Also, eliminate any trash or devices that collect small puddles of water such as pop cans, or swimming pool covers. Birdbaths are another attractive location for mosquitoes. Changing the water of a birdbath keeps it clean and less attractive to the pests. A single tire left outside is heaven to a mosquito, let alone dozens. Rainwater collects inside the tires along with organic material such as leaves and algae making them a prime breeding ground for mosquitoes, especially the species that transmits West Nile virus, the Culex pipiens.
Mosquito Prevention Tips
If it can hold water for a few days, then it can breed mosquitoes. Make sure to take care of stagnant water around your home and surrounding areas to help protect you and everyone from disease. Here are a few tips to lessen the mosquito population:
• Clean clogged gutters periodically
• Turn over plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows
• Change water at least once a week in birdbaths
• Cover or protect rain barrels with a mesh screen
• Dispose of old tires, cans, buckets, or containers that may collect water
• Use bug repellent and wear proper attire when around mosquitoes infested areas
Contact the Montgomery County Health Department at 765-364-6440 or visit online at www.montgomerycounty.in.gov.