DC region must prepare for disease-carrying mosquitos entering ‘prime-time season’

For people who are popular targets for mosquitos: beware. It is now the prime-time season in the D.C. area for the blood-sucking species to transmit diseases.

“The biggest nuisance mosquito in the state of Maryland is the Asian tiger mosquito,” said Brian Prendergast, program manager for the mosquito control program at the Maryland Department of Agriculture.

The mosquito can carry diseases, such as dengue fever and the West Nile virus. It is now moving into its most active time of the season.

Because of Tropical Storm Isaias, Lauren Lochstampfor, an environmental health specialist for the disease carrying insects program at the Fairfax County Health Department, said the perfect conditions exist for a big batch to develop, as mosquitoes lay their eggs in lots of standing water.

“Things that are going to be holding water in your yard are probably holding them right now,” Lochstampfor said.

Both Prendergast and Lochstampfor are urging homeowners to go out around their homes and address any standing water. Failure to do so will result in an increase of mosquitos around the home.

There is a reason for that, Prendergast said. The Asian tiger mosquito isn’t much of a traveler during its lifetime, only venturing about 500 yards from where it initially took flight.

“There is a very, very good chance that the mosquitoes that are bothering you are either coming from your own yard or your neighbor’s yard,” Prendergast said.

To rid a yard of breeding areas, look for standing water and do not forget not-so-obvious spots, such as the base of flower pots, gutters and black corrugated pipes used to help gutters drain water away from a home.

The key is dumping any water that you can. It should be treated with a larvicide, which prevents the mosquito from becoming a biting adult.

Knocking down the mosquito population can really help, but if  a homeowner feels like they can’t get ahead in the fight against the bug, there are treatments that you can get for your yard, Lochstampfor said.

Also, Lochstampfor said mosquito inspections are available for residents in Fairfax County.

In addition to stopping the problem at the source, it is important to make sure you don’t forget to use a repellent approved by the environmental protection agency when going outside.

Sprays with DEET and picaridin are among the popular repellents. Prendergast said he prefers sprays that contain lemon eucalyptus oil because in addition to keeping the bugs away, it also has a good aroma.

“It actually smells pretty nice,” Prendergast said.

Overall, there is some positive news.

Prendergast said Maryland is seeing a pretty normal mosquito season, and Lochstampfor said Fairfax County has noticed a lighter season than usual.

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