July 23, 2009

How to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes

Extreme wet weather in some parts of the United States has caused an increase in mosquitoes and their bites, which can cause disease like West Nile.

David Mizejewski of the National Wildlife Federation says since the pesky biters start life out as aquatic larvae in standing bodies of water -- as little as one-inch of water -- it's best to get rid of hot beds for mosquito reproduction.

These include clogged gutters, flower-pot drainage dishes, play equipment, tarps and debris. A birth bath will not become a nursery if the water is changed every few days.

There are a number of other ways Mizejewski recommends to avoid bites. Some of these include:

-- Attracting mosquito predators, frogs, salamanders and dragonflies. Putting up houses for birds and bats. Letting fish feed on mosquito larvae, but don't release goldfish or other exotic species into natural areas.

-- Not using insecticides or putting oil on the surface of bodies of water. These kill beneficial insects, mosquito predators and cause air and water pollution. Bug zappers also kill beneficial insects but are not effective against mosquitoes.

-- Mosquitoes are not strong flyers and the breeze created by a fan is often all that is needed to keep a patio mosquito-free.

-- Avoid going outdoors at dusk, which is peak mosquito time.