Expert: Mosquitoes light so far this year

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 3, 2006

Rick Fraley has killed his share of mosquitoes over the past 20-something years.

But, this year, the owner of Ohio Pest Control says the region has been fortunate in that the number of mosquitoes is remaining manageable.

“So far, we have been lucky. We had some rain last week, but it hasn’t been that bad,” Fraley said. “It was a slow beginning to this summer, so there was little mosquito activity.”

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Because the summer has been fairly dry until recently and mosquitoes rely on rain-filled spots to breed, Fraley said, his crews have been able to work efficiently in preventing and getting rid of the insects. But, he said, all of that could change in a matter of hours.

“You can never tell with Mother Nature. We could get more rain. It could rain the rest of the summer,” Fraley said.

Usually, the threat of mosquitoes ends in September. If there is an extremely rainy summer, that could be pushed back until October.

Fraley said the most important way to keep mosquitoes away is to eliminate all sources of stagnant water. Mosquitoes can breed every six days, he said, so time is of the essence. Fraley said people should drain all flower pots, bird baths, baby pools, buckets and other water-containing items immediately after a rain.

Tires are of utmost importance, he said, “There can be 10,000 mosquitoes in one tire, so that shows how important it is to get the water out of there.”

Keeping weeds trimmed and grass cut is also a way to prevent mosquitoes around the house.

Although it has slipped out of the spotlight somewhat, Fraley said the threat of the West Nile virus is still a very real one. Last year, there were 61 reported cases of the virus in Ohio residents; one of those in Harrison Township in Scioto County, Fraley said.

“Over the past three years, there really has been a lot of increased awareness about West Nile and what people can do to prevent it. But, it’s (West Nile) a threat that we have to take seriously,” said Fraley, who serves on the board of directors of the Ohio Pest Control Association.

West Nile is a rare but serious disease that causes little or no symptoms in about 80 percent of the people who contract it, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Some noticeable symptoms include fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting and a skin rash. Symptoms start to appear about 3 to 14 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.

In addition to the steps individuals can take to keep mosquitoes away, the city and township governments also take preventative measures.

Monday night, Fraley sprayed around the streets of Ironton. From 7 to 10 p.m. tonight, he will be lurking through South Point with his equipment to eradicate the insects. The spraying does not cause major health problems, he said, but those with respiratory problems should temporarily shut off their window air conditioners or close their windows.