Every summer in San Antonio, two things seem to be constant: our oppressive heat and swarms of mosquitoes that follow us everywhere we go. While there’s not much we can do about the heat; mosquitoes are another matter.
Find out why these annoying insects are such a problem and discover some ways you can outsmart mosquitoes before they can ruin your summer fun.
Why are mosquitoes such a problem?
In recent years doctors and scientists have grown increasingly concerned about mosquito-borne diseases. In particular, officials are worried about the Zika virus, which first appeared in the United States this year. According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, as of August 12, 2016, there have been 106 cases of Zika virus disease in the state of Texas.
For those who contract Zika, it usually is a mild illness with common flu-like symptoms, and generally, lasts about a week. More troubling is the potential for birth defects, and scientists are studying the possibility that the Zika virus contributes to microcephaly, a condition in which an infant’s brain does not develop normally, resulting in a smaller skull.
Strike back against the Zika virus by preventing mosquitoes from biting you and your family.
How to banish mosquitoes from your home and yard
The first step in fighting mosquitoes is to keep them from breeding in your yard and getting into your home and patio areas. Here are some places to start:
Drain all standing water in your yard.
Look for unexpected places for water to collect, such as children’s toys, swing sets, pet water dishes, buckets, and potted plants.
Add natural mosquito control to fountains, ponds, and birdbaths.
You can get mosquito fish for ponds that will eat the insect larvae. To smaller areas, try adding mosquito dunks/granules. These provide non-toxic mosquito control while also being safe for birds and other wildlife.
Clean out gutters, downspouts, and any other structures on your home itself that may collect water.
Mosquitoes can breed in a very small amount of standing water.
Include natural mosquito repellent plants in your landscape and on your deck.
Some plants to consider include lemongrass, certain species of scented geraniums, catnip, basil, and rosemary. Increase their effectiveness by crushing a few leaves and scattering them around your patio furniture before your next cookout!
Repair or replace broken and torn window screens around your home.
Keep them outside where they belong. No one likes that irritating buzz in their ear that indicates mosquitoes are nearby, but especially not indoors!
Keep lawns mowed and remove weeds, trash and brush piles.
While it’s likely you know that morning and evening times are prime mosquito dining times, where do you think those bugs go during the middle of the day? That’s right – in your long grass, shrubs, trees and brush piles.
San Antonio Metro Health offers mosquito abatement on public properties.
If you live near a park, city facility, or other public space, contact the city’s Vector Control program for assistance with mosquito control in your neighborhood.
Six ways to protect yourself and your family from mosquito bites
You’ve done all the hard work, but mosquitoes are persistent. Outsmart them by following the tips below:
- Limit outdoors activity in the evenings when mosquitoes are most active.
- For you and your family, make sure to apply mosquito repellents with the active ingredients DEET, Picaridin, or lemon eucalyptus oil.
- If you’re outside for an extended period of time, be sure to reapply repellents as necessary.
- Use mosquito repellents around your yard such as citronella candles and torches.
- Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing, and consider covering your arms and legs.
- Don’t forget your pets! While it’s important not to use human products on cats and dogs, there are pet-safe alternatives, including special collars and sprays.
You may even want to consider installing a complete yard misting system to eliminate mosquitoes all summer long.
Mosquito repellent now available by prescription to Texas women
To help prevent a Zika outbreak, some Texas residents on Medicaid and some insurance plans will now be able to get mosquito repellent distributed to them as a prescription medication.
As of August 9, 2016, Texas Medicaid will cover the costs of mosquito repellent for women ages 10-45 and pregnant women of any age enrolled in Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), CHIP-Perinate and Healthy Texas Women.
If none of these programs cover you or your family, contact your insurance provider or doctor to see if you can get a prescription for mosquito repellent.
When you need a helping hand
If mosquitoes are driving you crazy, give ABC Home and Commercial Services San Antonio a call. We will send our mosquito professionals out to your home to inspect for hidden places mosquitoes may be breeding, and offer expert advice for ways you can control mosquito populations.
ABC also offers full-yard mosquito misting products that will protect you and your family all summer long.