Wednesday, April 13, 2016

What You Need to Know about the Zika Virus

Yellow fever mosquito
Among the 57 mosquito species commonly found in Virginia, only two, the Asian tiger and the yellow fever mosquito (Aedes albopictus and Aedes aegypti) are known to transmit the Zika virus.

They behave differently from other species as they lay their eggs only in containers of water, not in puddles, ponds, or other bodies of water.

They fly around primarily during the day, but will enter homes and rest on the walls. Once inside, they'll bite both during the day and night.

Asian tiger mosquito
Although the yellow fever mosquito has been in America since settler times, arriving in water barrels on ships, the Asian tiger arrived in a shipload of tires unloaded in Texas in the 1990s. It is tolerant of Virginia winters, so has spread to every county and now is the most common urban/suburban pest mosquito. It can carry and transmit more than 20 different species of virus, including West Nile and Zika.

Mosquito breeding habitats
Property maintenance is the best deterrent. Spraying has not been effective against the Asian tiger. The most effective and environmentally sound method of eliminating it is to dump or treat any container on your property that can hold water. Containers are their most common habitat, so you are the first line of defense against the Asian tiger mosquito!

Abandoned tires are a favorite habitat, as well as flooded boats, knots or holes in trees, uncovered rain barrels, plastic-lined ornamental pools, cisterns, watering troughs, seldom-used swimming pools, flower pots, drain pipes, gutters, children's toys, buckets, jars, cans, bird baths, old sleds, even the creases in the cushions of lawn furniture -- anywhere water can sit for several days to a week before evaporating. They only need a teaspoon of water to breed! Ponds and creeks are not natural breeding habitats because frogs, fish, bats, insects, and other predators eat up the mosquito larvae.

If you can't regularly dump out the water from a container on your property, use mosquito dunks to treat the water.These pellets which can be purchased at hardware stores or online, and are safe to use if you have pets or farm animals.

You'll notice a difference if you keep your property free of mosquito-breeding standing water. Check at least twice a month. Once a week is ideal since the maturation process of a mosquito is two weeks from egg to adult. Tell your neighbors so they can dump their containers and keep your whole block mosquito-free.

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