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Mosquito Control? Tough but Not Impossible in Arkansas

PHOTO: Swat it! Or better yet, prevent it. The experts say the best protection from the more than 55 mosquito species native to Arkansas is prevention, by eliminating sources of standing water. Photo credit: Joaquim Alves Gaspar.
PHOTO: Swat it! Or better yet, prevent it. The experts say the best protection from the more than 55 mosquito species native to Arkansas is prevention, by eliminating sources of standing water. Photo credit: Joaquim Alves Gaspar.
June 17, 2013

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Since the first part of May, much of Arkansas has been walloped with severe weather, including flash floods. That means now it's time to be vigilant to keep mosquitoes from ruining the rest of the summer.

Any type of standing water, from a birdbath to the inside of an old tire, becomes an incubator for the bugs if it isn't drained regularly, says David Mizejewski, a naturalist with the National Wildlife Federation.

"Some species of mosquitoes only need an inch of water - so, water standing in the bottom of a flower pots or in clogged gutters, or in children's toys that are left out in the yard, these are all potential breeding places for mosquitoes," he said.

There are more than 55 mosquito species in Arkansas, and not all of them bite humans. According to entomologist Phil Pellitteri, some of the peskiest and toughest to control are floodwater mosquitoes, which might even have been waiting to hatch, and got just what they needed in the recent rains.

"What the floodwater mosquitoes will do is lay their eggs in temporary pond situations and so, when they dry up, the eggs sit there and, if it takes two or three years to re-flood, that's fine with them," he said.

Pellitteri said 90 percent of the mosquitoes are hatched in only about ten percent of the standing water. He said it isn't lakes or even ponds that are the problems, but the ditches, culverts and ruts that are often overlooked.

In addition to wearing long sleeves and long pants or carefully using a repellant that contains DEET, David Mizejewski said, there are some natural repellants like lemon balm or citronella. And nature has provided one more weapon to use against the mosquito.

"Mosquitoes are really weak fliers and sometimes, in a very limited area, all you really need is a strong breeze, maybe like a large fan."

It's also a good time to repair holes in window screens so you don't also have to fight mosquitoes indoors. And do it for your pets as well as your human family members: dogs are sometimes infected with heartworms by mosquitoes.

Information about mosquitoes from University of Arkansas Extension Service is at uaex.edu.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - AR