Rene Schmit | 10/11/2012 8:31:46 PM
West Nile Virus has been in the news lately with 53 cases of human infection reported and confirmed in Louisiana by the Department of Health and Hospitals. West Nile Virus is a disease that is spread by mosquitos after they feed on infected birds and then bite people.
Louisiana’s subtropical climate offers the perfect habitat for a variety of mosquitos that are active during warm weather. There are even some mosquito species that thrive when temperatures are in the 50’s and 60’s, making them year round pests here.
Of all the mosquitos in Louisiana, the two principal species found where people live are the southern house mosquito and the Asian tiger mosquito. The southern house mosquito breeds in areas such as drainage ditches and shallow ponds; the Asian tiger mosquito breeds in backyard containers such as bird baths, flower pot sources, swimming pool covers, boat covers and even flowers such as bromeliads.
Mosquitos can find you in several ways. Mosquitos, like other insects, are attracted to blue lights and clothing; but not to reds and yellows. That’s why bug zappers have blue lights and why some people use yellow lights on porches. Mosquitos are also attracted by heat and aromas – meaning some people are more attractive to the insects because of how they smell or their slightly higher body temperature. In addition, mosquitos are attracted to carbon dioxide, which you exhale with every breath.
The best methods for Louisianans to avoid mosquito bites are to avoid infested areas, wear protective clothing and wear insect repellent. Insect repellents, when applied sparingly to exposed skin, can help deter mosquitos from biting. Clothing should also be sprayed and especially thin material, because mosquitos can bite easily through thin clothing. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that repellents used on children contain no more than 10 % DEET which is the active ingredient in most mosquito repellents. However repellents containing DEET should not be used on children under 3 years of age. Be sure to always follow the product label’s instructions carefully.
Additional methods that can help with avoidance to mosquito bites include not wearing sweet smelling perfumes; staying indoors at dawn and early evening hours when mosquitos are most active; eliminating standing water in lawn areas and in containers around and near the home; and using fluorescent lighting outdoors rather than incandescent lighting which attracts mosquitos.For more information on mosquito repellents, please visit the Insect Pest Updates section of www.lsuagcenter.com/stcharles.