Special to the Recorder
Even though there have not been any reported mosquito-transmitted Zika cases in the continental United States to date, medical professionals are calling Miami America’s “ground zero” for the Zika virus.
Unlike West Nile virus and Chikungunya, Zika has been identified as a world health crisis. Yet according to The Mosquito Squad Fight the Bite Report, nearly 75 percent of Americans don’t plan to modify their time outside this year due to mosquito activity. What’s more, fewer than half of Americans follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendation to use mosquito repellent, while just a third remove standing water, a simple task the CDC recommends to reduce mosquito breeding.
Here are a few tips on how you can protect your backyard and yourself from this illness. First and foremost, get rid of outdoor water sources. This is where mosquitoes breed. In addition:
Tip: Tip over items in your yard to reduce standing water. Even a tiny bottle cap filled with water holds enough water for mosquitoes to breed. Since mosquitoes breed in standing water, its elimination decreases a mosquito’s breeding ground. Yards with bird baths, playsets with tire swings, tree houses, portable fireplaces and pits and catch basins are the biggest offenders.
Toss: Toss grass clippings, leaves, firewood and piles of mulch that are yard trash. By keeping a yard clean, you can remove a major breeding area for mosquitoes.
Turn: Turn over yard items that could hold water. Look for dog bowls, plant saucers, empty pots, sand boxes, plastic toys, or even garbage bins that are not being used.
Remove tarps: If tarps stretched over firewood piles, boats or sports equipment aren’t taut, they’re holding water. Get rid of them. Check tarps over firewood piles, portable fireplaces, recycling cans, boats, sports equipment and grills.
Take care: Take care of home maintenance needs that can contribute to standing water. Regularly clean out gutters and make sure downspouts are attached properly. Regrade areas where water stands more than a few hours and regularly check irrigation systems to ensure that they aren’t leaking and causing a breeding haven. Keep lawn height low and areas weed-free.
Team up: In addition to taking all precautions in and around your own home, talking with neighbors is a key component to mosquito control.
Treat: Around your home exterior, consider using the services of a professional mosquito elimination system such as Mosquito Squad. When traveling, use long lasting mosquito repellents.
Vanesa, Lisa and Kevin Ellis are owners of Mosquito Squad of St. Johns, offering professional mosquito control and mosquito elimination services. For more information, call (904) 559-3414.