It is that time of year when we gear up for outdoor activity. But we are not alone. Insects of all types also begin to “come alive” during the warmer weather of spring.
District 2 Public Health encourages residents to do some spring cleaning around their homes, yards and communities by discarding any unnecessary item that can retain water and become breeding grounds for insects.
It is important to Tip ‘n Toss after every rainfall to reduce the number of mosquitoes and help prevent the spread of mosquito-borne illnesses. There are many species of mosquitoes in Georgia and infected mosquitoes can spread several different illnesses including, West Nile Virus, St. Louis Encephalitis, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, Chikungunya, Zika and other illnesses.
We all need to remain vigilant in following certain precautions to reduce mosquitoes and bites. In addition to eliminating standing water around the home and in the yard, we must Tip ‘n Toss!, after every rainfall.
Tip out water in flowerpots, planters, children’s toys and wading pools, and buckets. If it holds water and you don’t need it (old tires, bottles, cans), toss it out. Look for small bodies of water such as drainage ponds, tree stumps and tire ruts. Clean out gutters, remove piles of leaves and keep vegetation cut low to prevent landing sites for adult mosquitoes.
For containers without lids or that are too big to Tip ‘N Toss (bird baths, garden pools), use larvicides such as mosquito dunks or mosquito torpedoes and follow the label instructions. Larvicides will not hurt birds or animals.
Homeowner associations and neighborhoods, along with city and county governments, are encouraged to sponsor community cleanup days. Mosquitoes don’t recognize property lines, so controlling their numbers will require a joint effort among all residents.
Public health has been increasing mosquito surveillance and educating residents, but the greatest impact will be when individuals take personal responsibility for their homes, yards and communities.
It is also important to protect yourself from mosquito bites. Use EPA-registered insect repellents containing 20-30 percent DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, or Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus. Wear light colored clothing with long sleeves, long pants and socks to help prevent mosquito bites.
Additional protection against mosquito bites can be gained by treating clothing with permethrin. Follow the product instructions on proper and safe use.
Don’t forget ticks. After spending time outdoors, especially in wooded areas or fields, check yourself for ticks. There are many species of ticks in Georgia and avoiding tick bites is the best protection. Follow similar steps for avoiding mosquito bites to prevent tick bites.
To learn more about protection and prevention or Tip ‘n Toss, log on to: https://dph.georgia.gov/insects-and-diseases or cdc.gov or www.phdistrict2.org.