Earlier this week, we posted an article about the rise in the number of mosquitoes that carry the dangerous West Niles virus. While the overall population of mosquitoes in our area is low, the Culex mosquito is actually rising. Luckily, as of last week, no one in Illinois had contracted the disease but public health agencies are always tracking the insects so they are prepared if an outbreak does occur.
According to a Chicago Tribune article, Entomologists say the hot, humid weather attracts the West Nile-carrying insects, which lay their eggs on warm water surfaces that also have organic materials like soil and bird droppings. Often that translates to things like kiddie pools, rain gutters, birdbaths and empty planting pots. The insects now are breeding in lakes and ponds that are drying up, while also benefiting from the disappearance of fish and dragonfly larvae, which typically eat the young bugs. The prolonged drought doesn’t help. Normally rain paves the way to lower temperatures, forcing the Culex to flee, and also kills any larvae growing in catch basins, storm drains and other contained spaces with water.
The disease, which killed three Illinois residents last year, is especially dangerous for those with a weak immune system. Children and those over 50 also are at risk of having complications from West Niles. According to the CDC, if a person contracts West Niles Virus they may not have any symptoms until the virus develops into West Niles Fever or severe West Niles disease. Then the symptoms can include fever, headache, tiredness, body aches, occasionally a skin rash (on the trunk of the body) and swollen lymph glands.
Here are some tips on how to reduce your risk of contracting West Niles Virus:
- Use an EPA-registered insect repellent such as those with DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus
- When possible, wear long sleeves and long pants (spray with repellent if the fabric is thin)
- Dusk and dawn are prime mosquito times. You may want to avoid outdoor activities during those hours
- Drain any standing water around your home. Flush bird baths frequently, drain kiddie pools, flush downspouts if they drain poorly
- Report dead birds to the authorities. Dead birds are a sign that West Niles is in your area
For further protection, you may want to consider contacting a pest control professional and investigate the possibility of fogging your lawn. There are several options to help control mosquitoes around your home. Quik Kill Pest Eliminators can help you evaluate if you have a potential problem and suggest how to have a mosquito free yard. Give them a call at 800-525-0505.