Tuesday, April 14, 2015

It's Mosquito Season

Every year from April 15 to Oct. 31, the City of Richmond Department of Public Utilities (DPU) treats storm inlets for mosquito larvae to reduce the number of mosquitoes and prevent the possible spread of West Nile virus.

More than 4,000 storm inlets will be tested for mosquito larvae and treated.

The process starts in Highland Park and will cover Ginter Park, Battery Park, and Azalea/Westminster by May 15. From May 16-June 15, crews will be in Windsor Farms, the West End, Oregon Hill, Randolph, The Fan, Maymont, and City Stadium; from June 16-July 15, Fairfield, Mosby, Church Hill, Fulton, and Shockoe; July 16-August 15 Willow Lawn area; Aug. 16-Sept. 15 Northside; and Sept. 16-Oct. 31, Southside.

West Nile Virus is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. An estimated 80 percent of people infected with the virus never show any symptoms, but the remaining 20 percent experience fever, headache, muscle aches, fatigue and joint pain. One in 150 victims will develop severe symptoms, including fever, headache, a stiff neck, disorientation or confusion, vision loss, seizures, paralysis, and occasionally death. There is no treatment available for West Nile Virus except supportive care. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported seven cases of West Nile Virus in Virginia last year and one death.

The best defense is to protect yourself from mosquito bites and eliminate their breeding areas.
This means turning over or removing any container in your yard where rainwater collects, such as pots, plant trays, buckets, tires, or toys. Eliminate standing water on flat roofs, boats, tarps, and lawn furniture.

Empty and refresh bird baths once a week and clean roof gutters and downspots where water might pool.

Clear obstructions in ditches and creeks so they can flow and drain. Fill in puddles with soil, sand or gravel. Mosquitoes can breed in as little as a teaspoon of standing water and can detect human breathe from 75 feet away. Only the females bite as they need a blood diet to breed.

Wear long, loose, and light colored clothing and use insect repellent products with at least 50 percent DEET for adults and 30 percent for children. Mosquitoes are most active at dawn and dusk.

Bug (yellow) lights do not kill mosquitoes, but mosquitoes are less attracted to yellow light. Fans blowing on you while you are in the yard or deck will keep mosquitoes away as they are weak fliers. Citronella candles offer no more protection than any other candle. Bug zapper lights also make little significant difference. Given the choice between a bug zapper light and a human, the mosquito will always head for the human.

And don’t scare away the bats as they can swallow 500 to 1,000 mosquitoes an hour while in flight.

DPU treats all the storm sewers and catch basins within the city with non-toxic sprays which are safe for humans and pets and have been approved for use in storm sewers by the Virginia Department of Health.

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