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June Showers Breed Mosquito Power in MA

July 20, 2009

BOSTON – June's heavy rains in Massachusetts gave mosquitoes a fertile ground in which to breed, and experts are predicting a rough mosquito season. Mosquitoes develop in water, and any standing water in people's yards, from puddles to bird baths to kiddie pools, makes great incubators for the bothersome insects. David Mizejewski, a naturalist with the National Wildlife Federation, says factor in (believe it or not) the recession, and this summer will be a mean season for mosquitoes.

"When you couple the conditions that mosquitoes thrive in with the fact that many municipalities are cutting back on their mosquito-control efforts - we are predicting this summer to be a bad one."

Mizejewski says products to protect yourself from mosquitoes run the gamut, from those containing the controversial chemical DEET, to herbal remedies that work differently, but effectively.

"We leave a trail of water vapor and carbon dioxide through our skin and out of our breath. That's what mosquitoes are following, and so a lot of these herbal products will actually mask that and keep the mosquitoes from being able to find you."

Mosquito bites can be painful or itchy, but Mizejewski says rarely do they produce serious illness. He says trying to "nuke" each and every insect on your property is probably not the best course of action.

"The negative consequences for us of spreading chemicals out in the environment outweigh the risk that you have of getting sick from a mosquito bite."

The Massachusetts Department of Health and Human Services urges residents to take simple precautions such as wearing long sleeves and pants, and limiting outdoor activities during the dusk hours when mosquitoes are especially active. People are also encouraged to mosquito-proof their homes by fixing broken window and door screens, and to eliminate standing water around the house — which can provide breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

Monique Coppola, Public News Service - MA