Time to Start Thinking about Mosquitoes

By Sue Ellen Woodcock

It’s that time of year when lovers of the outdoors and their furry friends get concerned about disease carrying mosquitoes and ticks.

At Tuesday evening’s Board of Health meeting members heard from the Northeast Massachusetts Mosquito Control (NMMC) and from Page Exterminating.

Kimberly Foss, an entomologist with NMMC, said they serve 32 communities north of Boston. In combating mosquitoes she said they use a larvicide placed in catch basins and other problematic areas. They use adulticide, or spray, only when it is necessary.

Already they have placed larvicide in the salt marsh around Winthrop Street, Bayou Street, Bayview and Veterans Avenue, and the cemetery area.

She added that NMMC is always in Winthrop testing and conducting regular checks of the area. Foss has been working with the public works department on the local catch basins.

Educating people about mosquitoes and how to combat the bug is also a large part of Foss’ job and she encourage people to visit their new website at www.nemassmosquito.org

“Winthrop will start Phase I treatment by the end of the month or beginning of June,” Foss said, adding that Winthrop is a Zone 1 Priority area for treatment. She likened spraying to a fly swatter, which kills the mosquito for the night, but does not stop larvae from hatching.

Ross said there are different ways to treat the mosquitoes. The first is proactively using larvicides, which is already done. The second is preventative measures such as eliminating standing water on your property.

Mosquito-born illnesses such as Triple-E and West Nile Virus are a concern. In the past testing has revealed mosquitoes carrying the disease.

Ralph Paglucca, owner of Page Exterminating, has done the rat baiting around Winthrop Center and also knows how to abate ticks.

There is no statewide tick program like there is for mosquitoes. Private companies typically will come in and treat a property. Paglucca said he uses something called a “tick box.”

“There are six diseases in ticks that are a concern now,” said George Williams, an entomologist with Univar Environmental Sciences. “We do a lot of outreach on how to remove a tick, tick checks, repellents work for a short time, proper clothing and trim back the shrubs around your home.”

The NMMC offers the following information on mosquitoes:

Avoid Mosquito Bites

Apply Insect Repellent when Outdoors. Use a repellent with DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide), permethrin, picaridin (KBR 3023), oil of lemon eucalyptus [p-methane 3, 8-diol (PMD)], or IR3535 according to the instructions on the product label. DEET products should not be used on infants under two months of age and should be used in concentrations of 30% or less on older children. Oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under three years of age.

Be Aware of Peak Mosquito Hours. The hours from dusk to dawn are peak biting times for many mosquitos. Consider rescheduling outdoor activities that occur during evening or early morning.

Clothing Can Help Reduce Mosquito Bites. Wear long-sleeves, long pants, and socks when outdoors to help keep mosquitos away from your skin.

Mosquito-Proof Your Home

Drain Standing Water. Mosquitos lay their eggs in standing water. Limit the number of places around your home for mosquitos to breed by either draining or discarding items that hold water. Check rain gutters and drains. Empty any unused flowerpots and wading pools, and change water in birdbaths frequently.

Install or Repair Screens. Keep mosquitos outside by having tightly-fitting screens on all of your windows and doors.

Protect Your Animals

Animal owners should reduce potential mosquito breeding sites on their property by eliminating standing water from containers such as buckets, tires, and wading pools – especially after heavy rains. Water troughs provide excellent mosquito breeding habitats and should be flushed out at least once a week during the summer months to reduce mosquitos near paddock areas. Horse owners should keep horses in indoor stalls at night to reduce their risk of exposure to mosquitos. Owners should also speak with their veterinarian about mosquito repellents approved for use in animals and vaccinations to prevent WNV and EEE. If an animal is diagnosed with WNV or EEE, owners are required to report to DAR, Division of Animal Health by calling 617-626-1795 and to the Department of Public Health (DPH) by calling 617-983-6800.

More information, including all WNV and EEE positive results, can be found on the Arbovirus Surveillance Information web page or by calling the DPH Epidemiology Program at 617-983-6800.

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