Their bites aren’t just itchy. They can make you and your pets sick. Here’s how to help avoid mosquito bites this summer.
It’s officially summertime here in Michigan, meaning it’s also time to put up with those pesky little critters that we so passionately hate.
Of course, we’re talking about mosquitos. We all know mosquito bites are incredibly itchy and annoying. But were you aware they can also be dangerous to your health?
Earlier this month, the state confirmed the detection of the first mosquito-borne virus of the year. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services found that mosquitos collected in Saginaw County were positive for the Jamestown Canyon virus. The virus causes symptoms like fever, headache, nausea, and vomiting, and can potentially be fatal.
And that’s not the only threat. Mosquitoes in the state can also carry viruses like West Nile, Zika, and Eastern Equine Encephalitis.
Why do they bite us anyway? Only female mosquitoes actually bite people and animals. They do this because they need a blood meal to be able to make their eggs.
Tips for Keeping Mosquitoes Away
One of the best ways to do your part to control the spread of mosquitos is by preventing them from hatching in the first place. You can help by removing opportunities for mosquitos to breed in standing water.
Here are some tips from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development on getting rid of standing water on your property:
- Clear clogged gutters.
- Dump water from potted plant saucers.
- Change water in animal bowls, buckets, or troughs at least once a day.
- Drill holes in containers to eliminate standing water.
- Clean and scrub bird baths weekly.
- Empty standing water from wheelbarrows, buckets, children’s toys, or anywhere else water can accumulate.
At a certain point in the summer, you’ll need to be around mosquitoes. Remember to use an insect repellant when outdoors that contains one of these active ingredients:
- Picaridin (known as KBR 3023 and icaridin outside the U.S.)
- Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE)
- Para-menthane-diol (PMD)
Remember to reapply insect repellant as needed. It doesn’t last forever. Mosquitos can also feed during the day and night, so don’t get confident that you’re safe from their bites after dark.
Lastly, don’t overlook your pets. Dogs can catch heartworm through mosquito bites, and Eastern Equine Encephalitis has a high mortality rate in horses. Contact your vet to find the best mosquito prevention method for your pet.
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