Experts warn residents about mosquitoes

June 8, 2009 Spraying and testing are underway in our area to control this year's mosquito population and prevent the spread of the West Nile virus.

Experts say this could be a bad year for mosquitoes.

The recent rain isn't helping with efforts to control mosquito hatchings.

The North Shore Mosquito Abatement District covers 80 square miles, 13 communities and has more than 25 traps set up.

On May 11, they found mosquitoes tested positive with the West Nile virus in Evanston and Wilmette.

The West Nile virus can be dangerous and debilitating. Now is the time to take measures.

"The cool weather has slowed down the development, where normally in very warm weather you could see the eggs develop into adult mosquitoes," said Robert Berry, North Shore Mosquito Abatement District. "The rain just creates more puddles and more opportunities for the mosquitoes to create nurseries."

Part of the surveillance program is to bring back the mosquitoes into the lab, treat them, grind them and sometimes even allow them to grow.

"We will freeze them overnight and test them tomorrow.Right now it means it could be potentially a very active summer," said Brad Bares, Ecologist North Shore Mosquito Abatement District.

North Shore Abatement is already spraying insecticide at a quick pace and over large areas to stop the mosquito larvae from hatching.

"Larvacide is the preparations that we use to kill those larvae before they become an adult mosquito and become a problem," said Berry.

Adultciding or spraying is done when surveillance tells them that the mosquito population has become a nuisance or threat.

Ecologists collected mosquitoes from one trap on Monday.

"We have been finding larvae in the standing water around our district since the first part of April and we've been treating those areas since that time. So we've been active for almost two months now," said Bares.

There are things you can to do help control the mosquito population by eliminating places where they can grow:

  • Cover trash cans
  • clean roof gutters
  • dispose of old tires, and other water holding items
  • keep drains and ditches clean
  • empty wading pools, bird bathes and planters.

And there are simple steps to stop the bugs from biting.

"Wear long pants whenever possible, long sleeves as well if you can. Wear Deet whenever it is possible. And then also try and avoid being outside at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most present and active," said Bares.

All the experts say it is important to wear repellents in order to avoid being infected with the West Nile virus. Read the entire label of the repellents before choosing what is best for you.

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