From the Vine – Mosquitos

— Written By and last updated by

 If you have spent any time outside since the hurricane, then you are aware that we have a mosquito issue in southeastern NC. It is hard to even walk to the car without being attacked by a hungry flock of these pest who are waiting to ambush you. If the bite isn’t bad enough, mosquitos can transmit several viruses to humans which can not only cause health issues, but can also be deadly. Reducing mosquito populations helps reduce both the nuisance biting aspect as well as the risk of exposure to mosquito-borne diseases, such as Zika, West Nile, or other viruses transmitted by mosquitos.

To reduce the mosquito populations in our properties and neighborhoods, implement an integrated mosquito management plan that focuses on source reduction, personal protection and chemical control. We should first focus on disrupting the mosquito life cycle to achieve any long-term success. As a homeowner, check your property for buckets, plant dishes, tree holes, tarps, birdbaths, old tires, and children’s toys. Tip and toss all water found in buckets and tarps and place under a shelter where rainwater will not collect. Tip and toss water standing in plant dishes and refrain from overwatering plants, which causes water to stand in plant dishes. Clean birdbaths periodically and wash with a garden hose. Fill any tree holes with expanding foam to keep water from standing in stumps or broken branch holes. Discarded tires can be carried to local tire recycling centers – there are several located in the Wake County area. Check children’s toys for standing water and store under shelters or turn upside down. Clean your gutters bi-annually to keep leaves and pine straw from causing standing water which will become infested with mosquito larvae.

Personal protection strategies include wearing long sleeve shirts and pants while outside, and applying mosquito repellants. Consumer Reports conducted testing on mosquito repellants and found those containing DEET, Oil of Eucalyptus, or Picaridin offered better protection than repellants made with natural plant oils such as citronella and lemongrass. Make sure you read and follow the labels of any repellants and apply at recommended rates and intervals.

Lastly, use chemical control to eradicate adult mosquitos in and around your property. According to the NC Agricultural Chemical Manual, products labeled for indoor use have active ingredients such as cyfluthrin (Bayer), deltamethrin (Black Flag, Raid), tetramethrin (Hot Shot), phenothrin (Raid), and pyrethrins (Raid). For outdoor use look for mosquito dunks containing bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) to place in birdbaths, water features, ornamental pools, small ponds, or standing surface water where rainwater has pooled. Aerosols or foggers recommended for outdoor use include products such as bifenthrin (Ortho), deltamethrin (Black Flag, Raid), gamma-cyhalothrin (Spectracide), or cyfluthrin (Bayer).

When using any chemical product, please keep in mind that a chemical doesn’t always land where you direct your spray, particularly under windy conditions. Be mindful of spray drift and beneficial insects, as these chemical products are harmful to bees. Do not apply chemicals when bees are active or to blooming plants where bees will forage. Read the pesticide label before you spray and never treat where children or pets are found. Also, don’t let anyone (pets included) enter the treated area until the re-entry interval time has passed.

These pests have become such a nuisance, that Governor Cooper has ordered $4 million to fund mosquito control efforts in counties currently under a major disaster declaration, which includes Sampson, Bladen, Harnett, and Johnston Counties. Spraying will be initiated and coordinated by counties and municipalities; the state is no longer handling these spray programs, they are strictly advising. Beekeepers in these areas should immediately identify themselves to the county Emergency Management and find out if they are in/near a proposed spray block to get details from their local government. To learn more about protecting bee hives from mosquito spraying check the NC State University entomology portal.

For information on repellents check the NC State University publication on repellent products.

For more information on community mosquito control check NC State University publication on community mosquito control.