Managing mosquitoes: Tips to avoid being ‘bugged’

COLUMBIA (WIS) – While summer officially kicked off this week, you may have been spending your time outside for a while now. However, if you are, the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) wants to make sure your armed with some tips against one bug who 'eats up' this time of year.

DHEC is observing National Mosquito Awareness week this week. Agency officials say they picked the week of June 24th because summer is officially in full swing and that means so are mosquitoes.

In doing so, they're asking South Carolinians to take a look around their homes. Here are some tips they say should help manage the mosquito population near you:

-       Clean out birdbaths and outside pet bowls frequently, flushing them with clear water.

-       Maintain shrubs and grass keeping them trimmed.

-       Stock decorative ponds with minnows or use appropriate products that manage mosquito larvae.

-       Remove debris out of gutters and spouting.

-       Make sure screens on windows and doors are in good condition.

-       Check around your home for standing water in: buckets, cups, plastic bags, tires, flower pots, tarps, and children's play sets. Remove any water holding containers.

-       Put holes in the bottom of trash cans without lids to let standing water out.

DHEC Officials say sometimes it's the smallest cracks and crevices that can cause the biggest problems. "One of those [places] may be a tarp that may be covering a boat, a camper or a trailer of some kind," said Adam Myrick, a spokesman for DHEC. "A lot of times little folds or creases in that tarp can hold water. It's a small amount of water but we often forget about it, but a mama mosquito sees that and knows it's a good place to lay some eggs and often times that's going to turn into a great breeding ground."

Myrick says it's important to be vigilant to prevent mosquito-borne diseases like West Nile. In addition to mosquito proofing your home, you can also mosquito proof yourself.

DHEC officials encourage:

-       Stay inside at times when mosquitoes are most active: Dawn, dusk and early evening.

-       If you have to be outside during the above times, wear long-sleeves and long pants (even in hotter weather)

-       Use appropriate repellents and follow directions.

-       Check on your animals (Horses, dogs, etc.) and consult with a veterinarian to learn more about protection

Officials add, if you do get bit by a mosquito and later feel different than usual, (i.e. symptoms of a light fever, headache, rash, etc.), you should consult your healthcare professional.

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