Though Mosquito Awareness Week has passed, the threat of contracting disease remains a tangible danger. The Houston area ranks among the nation’s Top 50 Mosquito Cities, according to the latest data released by Orkin. Alarmingly, around 1 million people die each year from mosquito-related diseases, making safety an important issue for our neighbors. While Universal Home Experts might not be a mosquito control company, or sell prevention tools, we also live in Houston – and have families and loved ones who require protection.
With the deadly Zika virus still taking lives in the U.S., we felt compelled to help spread the word on the various safety measures recommended by the experts. The long mosquito season generally lasts from February through October with activity rising along with the temperatures. You’ll want to follow these tips to keep yourself and your family bite-free and healthy through the fall.
Prevention in Your Yard:
Grow Mosquito-Repellent Plants: Start a garden that includes such mosquito-repelling plants as thyme, sacred basil, lavender, lime basil, rose-scented monarda, citronella grass, catnip and scented geraniums.
Remove Standing Water: Objects in your yard that collect standing water should be removed or protected from rainfall. Holes in your yard or uneven areas where water might collect after a storm should be filled in. Children’s wading pools and bird baths should be filled with fresh water every day.
Pool Safety: If you own a pool, make sure that it is treated regularly and circulates properly.
Clean Gutters: Don’t let your gutters fill with leaves and other debris. A cluttered gutter filled with water is a popular nesting ground for mosquitoes.
Trim Bushes/Shrubs: Keep all of your bushes, shrubs and trees trimmed. Overgrown bushes that touch your house are ideal for mosquitoes to flourish. They also make it easy for them to enter your home. Adult mosquitoes live under leaves and in tree bark, so keeping bushes free from cluttered branches and leaves (allowing in more sunlight) will help dissuade them from proliferating.
Clothing: Wear loose, long-sleeved shirts, pants and closed shoes. Hats and scarves are also suggested for extended outdoor events. Dark colors stand out to mosquitoes, so try wearing light colors -which are less attractive to them. This attire is especially important when going out in the morning, at sunset or at night when mosquitoes are most active.
Footwear: Stay away from sandals, flip-flops and open-toed shoes of any kind. Zika-carrying mosquitoes are attracted to feet (mainly because of the sweat and dirt), so keep feet covered at all times.
Repellent: Always use EPA-registered mosquito repellent. There are currently about 120 products containing DEET that are EPA-registered. It has been proven an effective tool in curbing mosquito and tick bites. DEET, when applied correctly, does not present a health concern to the public – including children.
Treat Clothing with Permethrin: Permethrin is an insecticidal compound that is used to prevent bites from mosquitoes, ticks and flies. It has been proven an effective preventative since its release in the 70s. Spray permethrin on your shoes, socks, pants and jackets to keep away pests. It is safe to use and lasts roughly 3 -4 weeks (even through washes).
Avoid Exercising Outside: Carbon dioxide in the breath and the scent sweat (body odor) attract mosquitoes. They are also attracted to heat and movement, so exercising outside during mosquito season is not recommended. If you must exercise outdoors, stay away from the peak times of sunrise and sunset.
Ineffective Remedies: Citronella candles have been a staple for backyard parties for years – but they have been proven ineffective in fending off mosquitoes. Eating garlic and wearing mosquito-repelling bracelets are also not effective methods, but continue to be touted as helpful. “Natural” repellents such as lemongrass, cinnamon oil and Cedarwood (in spray form) will do nothing to keep the mosquitoes away.
Universal Home Experts wants our Houston neighbors to have a safe and happy summer. We also want to make sure that everyone stays educated on the proper ways to deal with mosquitoes throughout the long season. Remember that whenever you need assistance with your electrical system, central air or plumbing, our experts are available 24/7. Call us at (713) 364-0226 to schedule an appointment today!