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Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources

Homeowners and families should protect against mosquitoes this summer

STILLWATER, Okla. – Oklahomans planning to work and play outdoors this summer should be prepared to protect against mosquitoes.
Homeowners and families should protect against mosquitoes this summer

To discourage mosquitoes from building up, homeowners should try to reduce the areas of standing water on their property, such as in gardening containers and bird baths.

Whether working in the garden, taking a brisk evening walk or enjoying a family picnic, there are safety precautions people can and should take when outside.

“The lifecycle of a mosquito all depends on water,” said Justin Talley, Oklahoma State University livestock entomologist. “They have to have water for their immature stages to develop, so anywhere there’s water, there could be mosquitoes developing in it.”

Around the house, the most important step families can take in preventing mosquitoes from building up is to reduce the amount of standing water around the property.

“The main concern with standing water is the potential to serve as a breeding ground for mosquitoes, which could be infected with viruses such as West Nile and Zika,” Talley said.

Homeowners should check their property for any areas that have the potential to hold water, such as bird baths, containers in gardens and even tree holes and make sure the water is draining.

In cases where the home has a water feature, property owners can put out mosquito dunks or granules to prevent mosquitoes from developing in the water.

Homeowners also can spray ornamental plants with an insecticide that repels mosquitoes from landing on them or, if they do land, leaves a residue that will prevent the population from building up.

When it comes to outdoor activities, wearing long sleeves and long pants can provide a first line of defense in terms of preventing mosquito bites.

However, the most effective protection comes from repellants containing at least 15 percent DEET. Some natural products, such as lemon eucalyptus oil, also are effective at repelling the pests.

“Mosquitoes are generally most active at dusk and dawn,” Talley said. “If you’re outside early in the morning or late in the evening, you need to put on some type of repellent. However, container breeding mosquitoes that can carry Zika and other viruses are active during the afternoon and will feed during the daytime.”

Repellants with DEET should not be used on children 3 years or younger and no repellent of any kind should be used on children 2 months or younger.

“When you’re putting repellant on a child, usually the best technique is for adults to put some repellent in their hand and wipe it on to ensure thorough coverage,” Talley said.

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Leilana McKindra
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Oklahoma State University
Stillwater, OK 74078
Phone: 405-744-6792
Fax: 405-744-5739
Email: leilana.mckindra@okstate.edu

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